The Informers

The Informers

Book - 2009
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A virtuosic novel about family, history, memory, and betrayal from the brightest new Latin American literary talent working today.

When Gabriel Santoro's biography is scathingly reviewed by his own father, a public intellectual and famous Bogotá rhetorician, Gabriel could not imagine what had pierced his icy exterior to provoke such a painful reaction. A volume that catalogues the life of Sara Guterman, a longtime family friend and Jewish immigrant, since her arrival in Colombia in the 1930s, A Life in Exile seemed a slim, innocent exercise in recording modern history. But as a devastated Gabriel delves, yet again, into Sara's story, searching for clues to his father's anger, he cannot yet see the sinister secret buried in his research that could destroy his father's exalted reputation and redefine his own.

After his father's mysterious death in a car accident a few years later, Gabriel sets out anew to navigate half a century of half-truths and hidden meanings. With the help of Sara Guterman and his father's young girlfriend, Angelina, layer after shocking layer of Gabriel's world falls away and a complex portrait of his father emerges from the ruins. From the streets of 1940s Bogotá to a stranger's doorstep in 1990s Medellín, he unravels the web of doubt, betrayal, and guilt at the core of his father's life and he wades into a dark, longsilenced period of Colombian history after World War II.

With a taut, riveting narrative and achingly beautiful prose, Juan Gabriel Vásquez delivers an expansive, powerful exploration of the sins of our fathers, of war's devastating psychological costs, and of the inescapability of the past. A novel that has earned Vásquez comparisons to Sebald, Borges, Roth, and Márquez, The Informers heralds the arrival of a major literary talent.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2009.
ISBN: 9781594488788
1594488789
Characteristics: 351 p. ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: McLean, Anne 1962-

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Mark_Daly Jan 05, 2017

The storytelling is seductive, and the prose style in this translation is effortlessly fluid and entertaining, but the plot takes FOREVER to get to the point.

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Pisinga
Feb 17, 2016

Maybe for someone this period in the history of Colombia, around which the unfolding all events, seems completely insignificant and uninteresting, but this book is written so talented (and we must pay tribute to the English translation), it is not possible to put it down until finishing reading.
The first part mainly focuses on the ambiguous relationships between father and son, both pretty intelligent and well-read people. In the book there's a lot of philology, which is understandable, because the author has studied literature at the Sorbonne, and not only there. That, unfortunately, is not a case (I mean, studying literature) for many modern authors who are producing writings, like bread baking.
The middle part of the book, between different topics, addresses the issue of immigration. It seems to me that despite the fact that everything happened in the 40s in Colombia, much remains quite relevant to this days: what it means to stay be a patriot of motherland while by one or other reason somebody resulted in emigration, in a totally alien environment? To what level you need to take the laws of the country host as rules? To what extent adherence to their own country - the habits, language, etc., should be legalized and accepted in the host country?

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empbee
Jun 17, 2015

Interesting book about German emigrants in war time Colombia. Secrets of the famous, sins of youth, compassion and other emotions. Stretched at times but well written.

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uncommonreader
Dec 07, 2014

Subtle and understated, this novel about betrayal is set during WW II in Columbia and tells of the little known history of the blacklists and internment of Germans during this period. Vasquez provides no clear resolution to his story. Highly recommended.

ser_library Feb 10, 2014

a beautifully written and translated complex novel which is thought provoking and discussable

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