Sunday, January 10, 2010

Noticia de un secuestro

“No,” Nydia replied. “They killed her.”
The president, who was in direct communication with Medellín, had no doubts.
“How do you know that?”
Nydia answered with absolute conviction: “Because I’m her mother and my
heart tells me so.”

I’ve read five of GGM’s books over the years, and this has been my favorite so far. I liked Love in the Time of Cholera a lot, but I did have some reservations about it and I will always have melancholy feelings associated with it for reasons I won’t discuss here. (I also thought Living to Tell the Tale was very accomplished.) In any case, though it diverged wildly from the style I had come to expect from Márquez, I thought it was a fantastic book. It got me through some very trying reading conditions (airport, airplane, doctor’s office) and I found it hard to put down. I was a tiny bit skeptical when J gave it to me, seeing as how the subject matter is 100% serious, but it was an astute choice after all.

As I learned from Living to Tell the Tale, GGM had a long career in journalism, and it shows in the precise, detailed, fact-driven, but human narrative he has constructed out of numerous interviews, reports, newspaper and TV program accounts of the kidnapping of 10 Colombians in 1990. Despite the violence, demoralization, the pain and suffering endured not only by the victims but their families, the book is balanced and even hopeful. You know which of the hostages survived and which were murdered before going too far into the “story,” but it’s still a gripping and moving tale. The conversational style is adept for giving history lessons (“Colombia had not been aware of her own importance in the international drug trade until the traffickers invaded the country’s highest political echelons through the back door . . .”) and for describing the conditions for the hostages.

An unexpected but sweet outcome of reading News of a Kidnapping was that I grew to value something J’s written on this subject all the more for its handling of the politics and the fictionalized but still characteristic main players.

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