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News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García…
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News of a Kidnapping (1996)

by Gabriel García Márquez

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 42 mentions

English (12)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (19)
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58. News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez
translation: 1997, by Edith Grossman
originally published: 1996
format: 391 page paperback
acquired: August
read: Oct 2-21
time reading: care of Bookly, I know it took me 9 hrs, 45 mins to read this. That's 2 pages a minutes, or 29.8 pages per hour
rating: 3

The next book on my Márquez list. I knew going in this wasn't an exciting book. Reviews complain it's long and boring. And, while the first 20 pages are gripping, it is a slow book. There is no effort to glorify and run the adrenaline (although there is some awful stuff). Márquez is patiently exploring the humans involved and watching how the story reveals some things about them and about Colombia.

This is a true story. As Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord and billionaire, looked to turn himself in apparently for protection, he needed leverage to protect himself from the government. So, he started kidnapping people connected to prominent people. And when kidnapping the daughter of an ex-president didn't work, he kidnapped more people. Ultimately ten in all, and several by accident because they happened to be with the target. Drivers or guards were merely killed on the spot.

Escobar is essentially looking for legal ransom. He doesn't want to be extradited to the United States where he would be put in a maximum security prison for life. But the book isn't about him. The typical American journalist would open this book with a thrilling depiction of some aspect of the drug business, or Escobar's life style and violence. Márquez barely touches him. We only see Escobar through his people, his lawyers and connections and the different crews running the different kidnappings. Instead Márquez focuses on the life of those kidnapped, and each experience is different. Hero Buss, a German photographer, essentially had an adventure, his first action upon release was to give a bystander a camera to take a picture, documenting the moment. Whereas Maruja Pachón never knew if she was about to be executed, or raped or entertained or left alone and for months on end, and spent her time trying to build useful relationships with her constantly changing captors. Two of those kidnapped were killed (as mentioned in the opening acknowledgements).

I can't say this is anything I would recommend to someone, unless they were really interested in circa-1990 Colombia and couldn't find a more engrossing book, or they wanted an alternate view of then Colombian president César Gaviria, who comes across as cold and calculating but also sincere. And I can't say I feel rewarded by the reading experience. But I never minded the book and I got some interesting things out of it, and, in way, I really appreciated the sort of respectful unheightened approach. ( )
  dchaikin | Nov 3, 2018 |
Learned a lot about a country and contemporary historical happenings but it was a slow read. Took me a long time to finish. Not sure that I will read anything else by this author, but perhaps his nonfiction?
( )
1 vote LaurieAE | Aug 22, 2013 |
ebook version
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Es un libro con una pequeña mirada a nuestro pais, es decir, que muestra la cruda problematica del secuestro. Un buen libro que nos puede enseñar y nos puede poner a analizar, a traves de historias reales, lo que fue y es la realidad en este pais si seguimos en la misma ceguera. ( )
  AndreCataVargas | Feb 7, 2013 |
I'm a huge fan of the magic-realism writing of this author. Here Gabriel Garcia Marquez breaks away from that genre and produces an international best-seller in journalistic style. I've read that Marquez started to write based on the experience of one of his friends, but enlarged the scope of his subject matter. I would imagine that writing about the drug cartels in your own country of Columbia could be very risky.
  MarieTea | Aug 1, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gabriel García Márquezprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grossman EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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She looked over her shoulder before getting into the car to be sure no one was following her.
Antes de entrar en el automóvil miró por encima del hombro para estar segura de que nadie la acechaba.
(Hebrew)
לפני שנכנסה למכונית, הציצה אל מעבר לכתפה כדי לוודא שאיש אינו אורב לה. השכה היתה שבע וחמישה בערב, בבּוֹגוֹתָה.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375400516, Hardcover)

During the 1980s, the government of Colombia signed a treaty with the United States allowing for the extradition of Colombian citizens. This caused a great deal of distress among the kingpins of the Medellín drug cartel. Why? Traffickers like Pablo Escobar had spent the decade exporting billions of dollars' worth of cocaine. They weren't likely to be arrested at home, but if extradited and tried in America, they would spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Escobar and his colleagues tried to a cut a deal with the government. Then Escobar decided that a little extralegal pressure--i.e., terrorism--could do no harm. In short order he had 10 prominent Colombians kidnapped; most were journalists, and all had professional or personal ties to the pro-extradition movement. Ultimately two of the hostages were shot. The remaining eight were released in a trickle, as the drug traffickers began to break ranks and surrender. So ended at least one episode in what Gabriel García Márquez calls "the biblical holocaust that has been consuming Colombia for more than twenty years."

García Márquez was originally invited to write about the kidnapping by Maruja Pachon, who spent six months in captivity. As he began to write, however, he realized that her story was inseparable from that of the other nine victims. The result is a meticulous, sobering, and suspenseful book. It is, of course, a work of reportage, which puts a lid on the author's penchant for magic realism. But in the hands of a writer like García Márquez, truth makes fiction look paltry indeed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This astonishing book by the Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez chronicles the 1990 kidnappings of ten Colombian men and women - all journalists but one - by the Medellin drug boss Pablo Escobar. The carefully orchestrated abductions were Escobar's attempt to extort from the government its assurance that he, and other narcotics traffickers, would not be extradited to the United States if they were to surrender.From the highest corridors of government to the domain of the ruthless drug cartels, we watch the unfolding of a bizarre drama replete with fascinating characters: Cesar Gaviria, the nation's cool and secretive president; Diana Turbay, a famous television journalist and magazine editor; three indomitable women who are imprisoned for miserable months in a small room with a light perpetually on; an eighty-two-year-old priest with a mission to bring the regime and the cartel to the negotiating table; and Escobar himself, the legendary drug baron who changes his bodyguards daily and maintains a private zoo with giraffes and hippos from Africa. All of this takes place in a country where presidential candidates and cabinet officers are routinely assassinated; where police go into the Medellin slums to murder boys they think may be working for Escobar; but where brave and honest citizens are trying desperately to make democracy survive.… (more)

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