News of a Kidnapping (Vintage International)

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In 1990, fearing extradition to the United States, Pablo Escobar – head of the Medellín drug cartel – kidnapped ten notable Colombians to use as bargaining chips. With the eye of a poet, García Márquez describes the survivors’ perilous ordeal and the bizarre drama of the negotiations for their release. He also depicts the keening ache of Colombia after nearly forty years of rebel uprisings, right-wing death squads, currency collapse and narco-democracy. With cinematic intensity, breathtaking language and journalistic rigor, García Márquez evokes the sickness that inflicts his beloved country and how it penetrates every strata of society, from the lowliest peasant to the President himself.

Rob Spillman

Before he earned his international reputation as the master of magic realism and before he was crowned a Nobel Laureate, Gabriel García Márquez was a foreign correspondent for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador. After his good friend Maruja Pachon de Villamizar was kidnapped by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in 1990, García Márquez decided to return to his roots and write a straight book of journalism about the eight-month drama that captivated Colombia.

At the time, Escobar and his associates were on the verge of surrendering, but refused to turn themselves in unless the government guaranteed that they would not be extradited to the United States. To increase their bargaining position "The Extraditables" abducted 10 prominent journalists, several of whom were related to government officials, including the wife and a daughter of two former presidents. Maruja was the head of the Colombian agency for film promotion, but more importantly to Escobar, she was the wife of Alberto Villamizar, a prominent politician and advisor to President Cesar Gaviria.

García Márquez's narrative bounces back and forth between the cramped cells of the prisoners and the worried families as they negotiate with Escobar. Each night the television was filled with scenes of friends and family of the victims sending personal messages to the captives. The victims gathered around the TV with their captors and sometimes wagered on which celebrity would appear to beg for their release. This surreal drama would seem like perfect raw material for García Márquez's fantastical talent, yet News of a Kidnapping is surprisingly flat and unsuspenseful. In Colombia, the details of the negotiations and the day-to-day survival of the prisoners played well, but in translation the recounting of this strange incident reads like a dated, overlong magazine article. It lacks suspense because García Márquez reveals in the introduction which two of the hostages were killed, which were freed and how and why Escobar surrendered. With all the drama removed, the only motivation to read on is for the few surreal, emotional tidbits sprinkled throughout. Those looking for a grand parable or compelling historical account will be disappointed by what feels like a blown opportunity. -- Salon

Author : García Márquez, Gabriel

Publisher : Vintage

Published Year : 2008-01-08T00:00:01Z

Edition : Reprint

Format : Paperback, 304 pages

Language : en_US

Dimensions : Height: 8 Inches, Length: 5.2 Inches, Weight: 0.49 Pounds, Width: 0.7 Inches

ISBN : 1400034930

ISBN13 : 9781400034932