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, 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 became one of the leading figures of the literary movement bearing the same name.

For more than thirty years, Ramírez was active as both a politician and a novelist. He lived in Berlin between 1973 and 1975 as the recipient of a DAAD scholarship and 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 served as the country’s Vice President from 1984. He has now withdrawn from active political life.

Ramírez has written numerous stories and novels, as well as working as a journalist. 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 des Arts et 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, and his first novel Tiempo de fulgor was issued in 1970. He received the Premio Imagen for his book of fables De Tropeles y Tropelías in 1973. In 1998, Un baile de máscaras (1995) won the French Laure Bataillon Prize for the best foreign novel. His work Margarita, está linda la mar (1988) was awarded the renowned Spanish Alfaguara Prize in 1998 and the Premio Latinoamericano de Novela “José María Arguedas” in 2000. His most recent works are Mil y una muertes (2004), a novel,  El Reino Animal (2006), a collection of short stories, and Señor de los Tristes (2006), a collection of literary essays. 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 and in 2005 he was visiting professor for contemporary Latin American literature at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Ramírez writes for Spanish language newspapers throughout the world, including El País, Madrid, La Jornada, México, El Tiempo, Bogotá, El Nacional, El Periódico, Guatemala, and La Prensa, Managua, among others. He lives with his family in Nicaragua.


go to top of the page

"“Eyewitnessing” is the linchpin of literary reportage."Nedim Gürsel (jury member 2003 & 2006)