Books: Surfaces the Jaguar Smile

by Salman Rushdie Viking; 171 pages; $12.95

With its huge vacant lots and denuded downtown, modern Managua resembles a blank screen onto which outsiders can project their most wishful fears or fantasies.

The latest foreign observer to peer into the void is Salman Rushdie, author of two fantastical novels, Midnight's Children and Shame, that tell the recent history of India and Pakistan. As an Indian who grew up with his independent motherland in its infancy, and as a fabulist whose bravura acts of invention bring to mind the "magic realism" of Latin American fiction, Rushdie felt himself obscurely allied with the revolutionary government in Nicaragua. Last summer he...

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