The Country Under My Skin

The Country Under My Skin

A Memoir of Love and War

Book - 2002
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An electrifying memoir from the acclaimed Nicaraguan writer ("A wonderfully free and original talent"--Harold Pinter) and central figure in the Sandinista Revolution. Until her early twenties, Gioconda Belli inhabited an upper-class cocoon: sheltered from the poverty in Managua in a world of country clubs and debutante balls; educated abroad; early marriage and motherhood. But in 1970, everything changed. Her growing dissatisfaction with domestic life, and a blossoming awareness of the social inequities in Nicaragua, led her to join the Sandinistas, then a burgeoning but still hidden organization. She would be involved with them over the next twenty years at the highest, and often most dangerous, levels. Her memoir is both a revelatory insider's account of the Revolution and a vivid, intensely felt story about coming of age under extraordinary circumstances. Belli writes with both striking lyricism and candor about her personal and political lives: about her family, her children, the men in her life; about her poetry; about the dichotomies between her birth-right and the life she chose for herself; about the failures and triumphs of the Revolution; about her current life, divided between California (with her American husband and their children) and Nicaragua; and about her sustained and sustaining passion for her country and its people. From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2002.
ISBN: 9780375403705
Branch Call Number: PQ7519.2.B44 Z47413 2002
921 B443
Characteristics: xi, 380 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., ports. ; 24 cm.


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Aug 01, 2018

The author recounts the last fifty years of Nicaragua’s tumultuous history from her personal point of view in this well written autobiography. Nicaragua is her native country, and she confesses to have wept often in the memory of those who stood by her side during this unbridled time, her family, her friends including her lovers. She tells a captivating story intermingled with her own passionate memories. Her testimony places her as one of the nation’s leading women during it’s revolutionary years. She is also a recognized Latin American poet and a novelist.

Belli traces the arc of her social evolution from an elite country club teen ager who knew the compitas, the poor people, only as household servants or the folks she observed from her father’s car window, to a young guerrilla official willing to take perilous risks. She admits she had to learn what a revolution was while discovering its flaws at the same time, and complaining about it, much to her credit, but not being heard. In her view, the Sandinista Revolution never gelled, and this seems to be one of her many regrets.

As an educated and critically-minded young woman, she was obliged to assist Sandinista leaders who often saw her first as a susceptible female assistant. Her relationships with top guerrilla leaders, which often became love affairs, sheds light on the social complexity that necessarily accompanies a political upheaval such as the Sandinista Revolution. She openly criticizes herself for a variety of personal weaknesses on many pages.

Her encounter with General Omar Torrijos, Panama’s leftist military dictator, spiked my interest. She served the Sandinista revolutionaries as an informal secretary of state, securing ties with outside supporters, and so when she was ordered to meet with him she fully realized that he stood as an important ally. Knowing that he backed the Sandinistas in important ways, she writes that she felt utterly crushed, in a mission to communicate with him about some urgent matters, when he saw her only as someone to have sex with. He received her in his pajamas and ordered her to dress like him. She refused, providing us with an example of how machismo and politics go well together.

She met Fidel Castro two or three times in her role as an informal secretary of state, and he too disillusioned her. He, of course, was pivotal in his support of the Sandinistas. Her job was to provide him with critical information. When she courageously offered her views about an important question that came up, contradicting him, he dismissed her, and didn’t speak to her again.

Belli devotes limited attention to Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua and a revolutionary hero who is turning dictatorial these days, and even less to Rosario Murillo, his wife. They used to know each other personally. Murillo is now Vice President, First Lady, and Ortega’s chief communicator on television, serving like a lightning rod in a storm. In an open letter from California, where she lives, to her fellow countrymen, Belli recently blasted Murillo for telling lies so often that people accept them as the truth. Murillo reportedly enjoys the support of the very compitas whom Belli could only stare at from her father’s automobile.

Dec 09, 2017

A housewife finds her upper class life boring and joins the resistance for a thrill. Very self promotional. Mediocre writing.

Jan 08, 2014

I enjoyed this memoir and learned quite a lot, for example about the three tendancies within the Sandinista movement. She could be criticized on several fronts - a little too idealistic, a bit too much about men and falling in love, and marrying an American is just too ironic. However, everyone should be aware of the role of the US in destroying the Nicaraguan revolution and that the peaceful turnover of government by the Sandinistas is to be applauded. I would have been interested in Belli's thoughts on Nicaragua post-1990, but perhaps it was too painful for her to write about. A indication that Belli was part of the movement is her belief still in the possibility of change.

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Feb 10, 2011

imaginethat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Feb 10, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.


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