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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.
Starred Review. Betrayals public and private collide in Colombian author Vásquez's first novel to appear in the States, a crushing and beautifully tricky novel. Gabriel Santoro's publication of a book about a family friend, Sara Guterman, a German Jew who arrived in Colombia with her family in 1938, unexpectedly enrages his father, a famous professor of rhetoric (also named Gabriel Santoro) who prefers that the past remain forgotten. When the elder Gabriel has a change of heart (after a health crisis), it coincides with a sexual relationship he begins with Angelina, his physiotherapist. But after Gabriel confesses to Angelina long-held past transgressions shortly before his accidental death, Angelina turns against Gabriel on national television while the younger Gabriel watches. The younger Gabriel then delves into Sara's memories of wartime intrigue and anguish revolving around suspected Nazi sympathizers. But Gabriel's lust for the truth makes him susceptible to committing harsh betrayals of his own. In Vásquez's intricate narrative, morality is ambiguous and as treacherous as the early-1990s Bogotá backdrop, and its intelligence and unsparing tone will hold readers rapt through its many twists and turns. (Aug.)
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Gives a very vivid picture of Colombia and of a particular sensibility on life that is completely new to me. Read morePublished 15 months ago by A Reading Shrink
I read Vasquez' most recent novel, The Sound of Things Falling, which I thought was excellent and have recommended it to many people. Read morePublished 18 months ago by frqttrvlr
enjoyed the story and the fact that it was set in a historical period of Colombia that I knew nothing about. Read morePublished 20 months ago by FRIDA HOLLAND
The Informers is a novel of history (from Nazism until this century) of Columbia, a novel of ideas, of betrayal, trust, loyalty, family relationships, love and hate
And of... Read more
Having grown up in under a dictatorship (Argentina), and experienced it in Nigeria and Russia, I found the characterizations accurate; there is a certain mentality in the informer... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Van E. Langley
I decided I wanted to check out more than work by Juan Gabriel Vasquez. I think it is important to flesh out one's knowledge and hearing history from another viewpoint is most... Read morePublished on October 6, 2013 by Susan A. Verbalis
"The Informers" begins when Luis Gabriel Santoro, a journalist in Bogota, is summoned to visit his father fifteen years after the death of his mother. Read morePublished on October 4, 2013 by Suzanne
Good writer, but he writes about pointless things. He imagines how people might feel or think and makes useless projections that slow the story down. Read morePublished on September 16, 2013 by William K. Taylor