News of a Kidnapping

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What to expect

Consumed these past twenty years by a “biblical holocaust,” Colombia has endured leftist insurgencies, right-wing death squads, currency collapses, cholera epidemics, and, most recently and corrosively, drug trafficking. Returning to his days as a reporter for El Espectador, Gabriel García Márquez chronicles, with consummate skill, the period in late 1990 when Colombian security forces mounted a nationwide manhunt for Pablo Escobar, the ruthless and elusive head of the Medellin cartel.

Ten men and women were abducted by Escobar’s henchmen and used as bargaining chips against extradition to the United States. From the testimonies and diaries of the survivors, García Márquez reconstructs their bizarre ordeal with cinematic intensity, breathtaking language, and rigor. We are drawn into a world that, like some phantasmagorical setting in a great García Márquez novel, we can scarcely believe exists but that continually shocks us with its cold, hard reality.

Critics Review

  • “Marquez’s calm sympathy reaches beyond these leading families taken prisoner by the war on drugs; he takes a human interest in the foot-soldiers who face certain death in Escobar’s service—and even in Escobar himself, a doomed antihero whose ‘most unsettling and dangerous aspect…was his total inability to distinguish between good and evil.’ Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is its insistence on individual choice between good and evil, pluck and cowardice, at a moment when a lesser writer might see only the drama of a gripping true-crime story, with villains and victims foreordained.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Garcia Marquez is concerned with the kidnapping, with relating a singular experience of Colombia that threatened its social and political framework. And he tracks the story like a detective, weaving in the voices of all the players, ferreting out the nuances in their relationships, and cunningly revealing a country torn asunder by the quest for drug traffickers, or rather the mother of all drug traffickers, Pablo Escobar.”

    Booklist (starred review)
  • “García Márquez’s consummate rendering of this hostage-taking looms as the symbol of an entire country held hostage to invisible yet violently ever-present drug lords.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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