Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

Sergio Ramírez, Nicaragua

“It has been said that the trade of writing is the best in the world, though more ancient ones exist. Or perhaps not. The need to tell, and to be told, begins that magic moment in which someone is not content with the direct perception of the reality that surrounds him, and with his mind wanders beyond the real limits of his world, where what is visible ends and darkness filled with anxiety for the unknown begins.”

Journalist, writer and professor. Sergio Ramírez was born in Masatepe, Nicaragua, in 1942, the second of five children. In 1960, while studying law at the University of Léon, he founded the literary magazine Ventana along with Fernando Gordillo, and he became one of the leading figures of the literary movement bearing the same name. For more than thirty years, Ramírez was active both as a politician and a novelist.

He has published stories and novels, and has written for the daily press. He lived in Berlin between 1973 and 1975 as the recipient of a DAAD scholarship. He was elected Secretary General of the Confederation of the Central American Universities (CSUCA) in 1968 and 1976.

In 1977, he was one of the founders of “The Twelve,” a group of Nicaraguan artists and intellectuals struggling against the Somoza dynasty’s dictatorship. After the triumph of the Sandinista revolution in 1979, he was the country’s Vice President as of 1984. Now he has withdrawn from active political life.

His literary activities include establishing several publishing houses, membership of the Academia Nicaragüense de la Lengua and associated membership of the Real Academia Española. He has been the chairman of the jury at film festivals in Cartagena, Colombia (1993), and in Huelva, Spain (2002). He was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Prize in 1988, and was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1993. He was recently awarded the Medalla Presidencial (2004) by the Chilean government to mark the hundredth birthday of Pablo Neruda. He is also a leading member of the FNPI (Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano), which was established by Gabriel García Marquéz.

Ramírez’ first book Cuentos was published in 1963 (Editorial Nicaraguense), and his first novel Tiempo de fulgor (Editorial Universitaria, Guatemala) was issued in 1970. He received the Premio Imagen for his book of fables De Tropeles y Tropelías (Editorial Universitaria, El Salvador) in 1973. In 1998, Un baile de máscaras (Alfaguara, México D.F. 1995) won the Laure Bataillon Prize for the best foreign novel in France. His work Margarita, está linda la mar (Alfaguara, Madrid 1988) was awarded the renowned Spanish Alfaguara Prize in 1998 and the Premio Latinoamericano de Novela “José María Arguedas” in 2000. His most recent work is a novel, Mil y una muertes (Alfaguara, 2004). His writings have been translated into many languages.

Ramírez was a guest professor at the University of Maryland in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, he was Samuel Fischer Professor for comparative literature at Berlin’s Free University.

Ramírez writes for Spanish language newspapers throughout the world, and lives with his family in Nicaragua.

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"What is literary reportage? What do we need? Do we need first-hand experience? Yes. Do we need literary writing? Of course. But we need also something that's different than everything else, a new creation, something that couldn't be done before, that can't be compared to anything else in the world."Mark Danner (jury member 2005)