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The Informers

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  631 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Cuando el periodista Gabriel Santoro publicó su primer libro, no pensó que la crítica más destructiva fuera a ser escrita por su propio padre.El tema parecía inofensivo: la vida de una mujer alemana que llegó a Colombia poco antes de la Segunda Guerra. Pero el padre de Santoro se sintió traicionado. ¿Por qué? En el libro hay algo que Santoro no había previsto. Entre las fr ...more
Hardcover, 347 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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If you like to stare into the mirror for hours until you see your parents, this book might be for you.

With at least a small amount of deference to Sr. Vasquez, I have to say that this book was a dull journey through self-reflection that likely lost a tremendous amount of flavor in translation.

The fact that this book is based on Colombian history from WWII put me at a disadvantage, because I know nothing about Colombian history. Thus, without further research, I found myself feeling as if I was t
If you have not been to Latin America, you really should go. It can be hot or cold, jungle or desert, urban or rural, Spanish or Portuguese, European or Indigenous, or any infinite number of other variables. However, the one constant everywhere is the feeling that anything could happen at any time and none of it would surprise you in the least. This book captures that unique feeling which the author attributes to Colombia, but really exists everywhere in South and Central America, which can look ...more
WOW! This is Vasquez's first novel which Mario Vargas Llosa proclaimed "One of the most original new voices of Latin American literature." This book backs that claim. Although he has only three novels, I have read two (one in Spanish and English translation) and he is securing my vote. His writing is clear and concise and yet, very human dialogue but his plots weave wonderful tales of "What's next?" They are a form of human detective stories, with the main characters searching and reflecting on ...more

Juan Gabriel Vásquez's The Informers annoyed me at times. It sagged in the middle, but is beautifully written and engaging enough to continue on. The plot centers on Colombia during and just after World War II, as Germans (both Jews and Nazis) arrived and sought refuge. The main character Gabriel Santoro published a book on the topic, based on the story of a family friend. His father, a famous professor of rhetoric, trashed the book publicly, and the
Miss GP
Sep 22, 2009 Miss GP rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who like DeLillo and/or Hazzard
Recommended to Miss GP by:
I found this book exceptionally difficult to follow. The narration was at times three layers deep (one person relaying someone else's story, telling a third person's tale -- all three ing the first-person), with no change in narrative voice. The story was told in flashbacks, but was non-chronological (flashbacks within flashbacks, the plot going back or forward in time, "stream of conciousness" style). It will probably appeal to those who love books based on writing quality, as the writing is, w ...more
Jim Coughenour
I made it 3/4 of the way through this book. Another reviewer used the term "soldiered on" – and it's an apt description of my own exhaustion. Characters refuse to come to life, surprising tragic turns fail to be tragic or surprising, endless episodes of constipated reflection fail to move either the mind or the imagination. Written with an obvious and deliberate intensity, it succeeds in being intensely inert. It appears to have been written by an (unfortunately) articulate zombie.
Ich habe das Buch vor Ärger jetzt auf Seite 309 abgebrochen. Ich geb ihm trotz alledem drei Sterne für die Schreibe und auch den Plot bis zum letzten Kapitel. Diesen Epilog hätte sich her Vasquez sparen können. Der Protagonist ist in seiner weinerlichen Suppe, hätte ich es doch anders machen sollen etc. pp. Ich will nicht spoilern. Ich mag solche Charaktere nicht, die im gesamten Buch als Typen mit Charisma und mit Zielen daher kommen und dann im Epilog einfach in sich zusammmen fallen. Mögliche ...more
During the second world war, the Colombian government created a "black list" so that no one of German descent or anyone sympathetic to the Axis powers would be in a position to aid and abet the enemy. People found themselves on the list for acts as random as the Japanese grocer who happened to make a delivery to the Spanish Embassy. Others found themselves on the list through acts of betrayal. The book centers around the guilt of an "informer" who exposed a friend and never came to terms with w ...more
The Informers is the story of two Colombian men, a father and son with the same name, whose estrangement over the father’s caustic, dismissive review of the son’s oral history of a family friend, a GermanJew who came to Colombia in the 1930s, ends when the father has heart surgery. However, the wounds from the estrangement and from the surgery have hardly healed when the father dies in a car crash on the road from Medillin to Bogota and what the son understood about the father is suddenly and pu ...more
After the first 60 pages.

Tedious turgid crap. As a matter of principle I don't take recommendations from the sort of person who goes to book clubs. I suppose I deserve what I got.

I could do this as a pair with the City of Thieves - both about a 'writer' deciding that his book will be about somebody who survived WWII. There the two part company. After the first sixty pages of this book nothing has happened. NOTHING!! If there is a story to come, I can't be arsed waiting for it.

City of Thieves ha
Σε αντίθεση με τον μαγικό ρεαλισμό του Marquez, ο Vasquez κάνει για δεύτερη φορά το θαύμα του επιμένοντας στην απομάγευση.
Colombian protagonist Gabriel Santoro Jr. has a tenuous relationship w/ his father, who is a popular and public figure, larger than life. In his first book, Gabriel Jr. writes the story of close family friend Sara, whose father was a Jewish immigrant who ran an international hotel. Gabriel Jr. hopes to please his father, who is ailing, but writing this novel has the unforeseen and unintended effect of lifting a veil and exposing a history some would rather forget. Colombia chose to stay out of W ...more
How does it feel like to know someone so well, but really not to know him at all? Now think about that person being someone who is very close to you, for example, your father. That is the case in Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s The Informers. Personally, I think that The Informers is a great read because of all the mysteriousness surrounding the plot. One morning, Gabriel Santoro, who’s the narrator of the book, is informed that his father has to go into a critical surgery very soon. Even though Gabriel ...more
Wow could I eat the themes of this book up with a spoon. Testimony, truth-telling, the role of the novelist, making sense of horrific past events, overcoming violent traumas… “The Informers” is written by the Colombian novelist Juan Gabriel Vásquez, whose “The Sound of Things Falling” I also loved. This book I may have loved even more, I think, because I feel like it does something even more surprising and challenging, by writing about an unexplored and relatively unknown (at least by me) facet ...more
Difficult and rewarding.

"I could have said that there were things I needed to come to understand. That certain areas of my experience (in my country, with my people, at this time that I happened to be living) had escaped me, generally because my attention was taken up with other more banal ones, and I wanted to keep that from continuing to happen. To become aware: that was my intention, at once simple and pretentious; and to think about the past, oblige someone to remember it, was one way of do
This novel deals with German emigrants to Colombia in the forties and the blacklists that sprung up as a response. It’s certainly a part of history I knew nothing about (although, admittedly, Colombian history is not my strong point) and it has some interesting points to make. However, I found the prose – or at least this translation of it – to be dry and wilfully dense, so that a lot of my initial interest had evaporated by the time I staggered to the finish.
Les cuento mi experiencia, porque de verdad no sé cómo explicarles este libro...

Empezamos con los personajes. Se desarrollan lentamente. Hay párrafos y párrafos, monólogos enteros. Precisamente así es el estilo de J.G. Vásquez. Cuando empecé leer, esperaba un 'thriller', o algo por el estilo. Las páginas se me escapaban, estaba devorando los párrafos, y todavía no llegaba a la médula de la novela. Empecé a odiarlo (me refiero a Vásquez). Lo odié porque me agarró con su narrativa de opio, y no me
Amo a este hombre! Un hermoso texto con una gran mancha periodística...
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Isla McKetta
Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s novel, The Informers, is a collection of three stories wrapped together in a brilliant structure. Rather than three consecutive books forming a trilogy, the action of the second book (the one we are reading) takes place after the first has been published. Vasquez reveals little of the text of the first book, the story of the exile of a family friend from Germany in Colombia during and after World War II, to the reader. Instead, its action is revealed in counterpoint to the ...more
There are many interesting and important ideas hidden within the pages of The Informers. Alas, the book fails somewhat as a novel. I can easily see myself recommending this to readers interested in Colombia's part in World War II, or for those seeking a very different angle on that war, or for those looking for a book that to a certain degree deals with mistakes and the consequences of those actions. But The Informers is far too flawed a book to be more highly rated. The writing is inconsistent ...more
If someone mentions South America and Nazis, what comes to mind? For many, it's the seemingly ubiquitous idea of Nazis escaping there after the war. While the concept has at least a few kernels of truth, it ignores or pushes aside events that swept up Latin America during the war.

South American writers, though, recognize that even if their nations were not combatants, they were not immune from the effects of Nazism and World War II. Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, in fact, created a fictional enc
In 1988 the Colombian journalist Gabriel Santoro published his first book, a biography of Sara Guterman, a longtime family friend of Jewish descent who fled Nazi Germany along with her parents in the mid 1930s. He is surprised to read a scathing review of the book in a national newspaper, which demeans both the book and its author. However, the most shocking revelation is that the anonymous author of this review is his father, Gabriel Sr., a respected law professor in Bogotá, who refuses to reve ...more
Sue Davis
This novel by Juan Gabriel Vasquez is an amazing multilayered, complex and brilliantly structured work that includes some meta fiction (novel within the novel). It seems somewhat reminiscent of Faulkner and the Spanish author, Antonio Muñoz Molina. One of the major themes is a consideration of the distinction between public and private both in terms of memories and relationships among friends and family. The title refers not only to the informers who ratted out their friends to the Colombian gov ...more
When the back cover states, 'One of the most gifted writers to emerge from Latin America in recent years' and 'An impressive novel of betrayal, revenge and redemption'. What would you expect? Something pretty awesome, right? Don't.

Well, if you're particularly interested in the WWII, Colombian history, and/or whatever happened to people in Colombia during WWII, then this book is for you. Otherwise, I found this book too dry and boring for it to be interesting. This, I suspect (as many others have
JJ Aitken
This is a Latin American author to keep your eye on. A very enlightening story revealing just how far and wide people found themselves due to this incredible upheaval. It is truly amazing how the implications of devastating acts can rise again through distantly connected people from any corner of the globe. The writing is so stunning that it had me going back over paragraphs again and again, for the pure joy of it. Something I have not done for a long time.
Fascinating look at a place in time & groups of people I knew nothing about--German immigrants (Jews, Nazis, & others) & their Colombian friends in & around Bogota, Colombia, in the pre- & post-WWII years, & decades afterward when secrets are revealed & attention is refocused on events of those years.

I didn't know, for example, that after the war the U.S. sent the Colombian government a list of names of "Nazis & collaborators" in that country & insisted that t
Amy Barnes
Trying to broaden my reading beyond so-called 'cosy crime', and decided to try out some literature in translation, having heard a BBC Radio 4 report into how little we read in this country that wasn't originally written in English.

I had, some time before, read about Experimental Tourism in Oh Comely magazine, and was excited by the concept of 'Literary-Travel' (see here: So...

I picked a country at random (Colombia) and after a lot of deliberation plumpe
Unfortunately the only bit of this book I really enjoyed was the end... And the parallel theme - how many informers are this in this book? It has an interesting setting, as I had no idea about life in Columbia around this time, but I found the way the book was written, skipping from one time and person to another, made it hard to read, paragraphs would go on endlessly, and some parts just weren't that interesting...
If I could give it 3.5 stars I would've (#appissues)liked it but it is one of those books that you can sort of feel like something was lost in the translation. It's a beautiful story that kept me up at night wanting to read more and kept me on the edge as the mystery is unraveled however the beginning was kind of a slow paced with a lot of beautifully written descriptions that sort of don't add up or progress the plot but I felt that after 70 pages or so things really kick in and the novel reall ...more
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Estudió Derecho en su ciudad natal, en la Universidad del Rosario, y después de graduarse, partió a Francia, donde se instaló en París (1996-99). Allí, en La Sorbona se doctoró en Literatura Latinoamericana. Luego se mudó a un pequeño pueblo de la región de Ardenas, en Bélgica. Después de un año de vivir allí, Vásquez se instaló en Barcelona, donde reside hasta hoy.

Vásquez es autor de tres novelas
More about Juan Gabriel Vásquez...
The Sound of Things Falling Las reputaciones The Secret History of Costaguana El arte de la distorsión Los amantes de Todos los Santos

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