Juan Gabriel Vásquez: The Informers (Translated by Anne McLean)

Books Reviews Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Juan Gabriel Vásquez: The Informers (Translated by Anne McLean)

Revealing a Colombian past

Has Gabriel García Márquez really given up writing fiction? If so, there’s an upside—other Colombian writers will finally get the attention they deserve. The Bogotá-born Vásquez is one of them, with a fresh, exciting voice and an elegantly written debut.

The Informers’ narrator, Gabriel Santoro, seeks to confront his father, an esteemed professor and lawyer who’s written a scathing review of Gabriel’s new book, a biography about a lifelong Jewish friend exiled to Colombia after escaping Nazi Germany. Santoro discovers the history of a blacklist for Nazi sympathizers and his father’s involvement. The revelation leads to an act of betrayal and to desires for clarity and forgiveness.

While some of the novel’s dialogue is longwinded, and excerpts from the fictitious biography lack the distinctive prose of Vásquez’s own narrative voice, The Informers is an impressive examination of how history and memory incite a narcissistic urge to correct the past: “It’s forbidden to revise and rest easy.”

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