Reminiscent of Borges in its maze-like complexity of shadowy figures and surreal situations, A Thousand Deaths Plus One is as unpredictable a work as it is intricate in construction. Sergio Ramirez’s novel is essentially a work of intrigue. In 1987 the author found himself in Warsaw on a state visit. Ramirez was vice-president of Nicaragua from 1984-1990. This visit to Europe serves as the fuel that feeds the plot of the novel.
While in Poland’s capital, Ramirez, who doubles as the narrator, discovers the work of a compatriot photographer named Juan Castellon. Castellon, he is pleased to discover, had worked in Europe from 1880 to 1940. The author becomes curious as to the identity of this Nicaraguan photographer and the circumstances that brought him to Europe. The action of the novel begins with this otherwise inconspicuous revelation. The animated plot sequences and narration oscillate between Ramirez’s description of the world around him, his psychological desire to understand Castellon and Nicaraguan history, and Castellon’s own part in telling his side of the story.
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