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Los informantes

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,353 ratings  ·  182 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
Published January 21st 2016 by Alfaguara (first published July 1st 2004)
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 ·  1,353 ratings  ·  182 reviews

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Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-enjoy
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
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-colombia
I had to step back, take a breath, and simply sit in silence for a moment to process what I’ve been reading over the last few days. The backdrop of this story is a young Colombian writer is telling the story of a German expat who fifty years earlier, came to Colombia at the outset of World War II. His motives for writing this are unclear but it seems it’s in part to earn the esteem and respect of his father, a respected legal figure in the community. When his father publishes a scathing
Rebecca Thatcher-Murcia
Although I was not as crazy about The Informers as I was about some of Vasquez's other novels, it included the gifts of fascinating history and character development that Vasquez has displayed in The Sound of Things Falling, Reputations, and The Shape of the Ruins.
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 German Jew, 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 ...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
I read Juan Gabriel Vasquez's The Informers as part of my Around the World in 80 Books challenge, for the country of Colombia. It has been so highly reviewed, and I was very much looking forward to it, particularly so when I read Nicole Krauss' thoughts. I found it quite intriguing at first, but it certainly took me a little while to get into the flow of the prose. Whilst the novel is both well written and translated, I did not really feel compelled to read on whenever I put it down. At no point ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like DeLillo and/or Hazzard
Recommended to PDXReader 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, ...more
Jim Coughenour
Dec 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book about the nature of betrayal and how it victimizes both the betrayer and the betrayed. The story weaves back and forth in time from the 1990s back to the 1930s in Colombia and deals with both the political violence in Colombia as well as Colombia's treatment of citizens from Axis countries who had lived in Colombia for years, all at the behest of the US government. Quite an eye opener!
Gumble's Yard
Book by Colombian author which in concept is incredibly similar to Soldiers of Salamis (which has the same translator).

The Informers refers to the historical underpinnings of the book (explained in an afterword)– during WWII and under American pressure the Colombian government broker relations with the Axis powers and then introduced a series of blacklists of Axis citizens suspected of Nazi sympathies who were subject to detention (albeit in good conditions) and severe economic sanctions before
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin-america
For me, this was one of those 1) worthwhile, 2) thought-provoking and 3) well-written books that I just couldn't get into. It left me (wait for it) more informed than I was before the read. I had no idea that during WW2 the United States was involved in getting German nationals on blacklists throughout the Americas. But yet, there was something fundamentally boring about this book. The language wasn't the problem (the translation flowed nicely), but I wasn't invested in any of the characters.
Rob Kitchin
The Informers is a reflexive novel that explores a little known period of Colombian history when many Germans living in the country were blacklisted and interned at the insistence of the United States and its subsequent effects. Using a plot device of a falling out between father and son over the publication of a biography of a family friend – a German Jew who fled to Colombia in the 1930s – Vásquez’s narrative charts three intertwined family histories: a Jewish German family who has fled from ...more
Jun 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
I found this a bit dull, unfocused, slow..., could have been half the length
Reader in group- Mysteries, police procedurals, and historical fiction are some of my guilty pleasures. The Informers (2009, originally published in Spanish in 2004) by the young Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vasquez has elements of all three genres, plus it is beautifully written to boot.

A Colombian journalist Gabriel Santoro writes a memoir of Jewish family friend Sara Guterman, whose family settled in Colombia during World War II. As part of his research for A Life in Exile Gabriel learns
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
a wonderfully written novel about the things we do and how they resonate through the lives of others, in a multitude of directions... a rather simple plot to this one, seemingly, but Vásquez does another masterful job of traveling though time and his characters to build a novel of increasing tension and multilayered interests... i am a huge fan of Vásquez's writing style so this was a fabulous book to read... he gives his characters so much depth and range... there are so many great phrases and ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
*2.75 stars--started out promising, but my interest flagged, especially during the overlong epilogue. Some quotations I did like:
" father's asphyxiated heart..." (8).
"...peaceful men who desired only to be swept along for a while by the inertia of optimism..." (14).
"I heard the words spat out into mediocre microphones..." (14).
"...a tiny slice of that August 6, 1988..." (16).
" the theater of fondness and support and affection that any convalescence is..." (44). *Well, ideally.
Jun 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foreign-lit, fiction
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
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is no doubt that Juan Gabriel Vasquez is a talented writer, but The Informers did not excite me at all. Gabriel Santoro, the protagonist, writes a book about German immigrants in Colombia, who fled or left Nazi Germany, only to find themselves blacklisted by the US FBI together with fascists, Jews and Nazi Party stalwarts. His father, Gabriel Santoro, a celebrity in Colombia, attacks the book and father and son become alienated. Later on the son finds out why his father panned his book by ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting storyline about the many ramifications of the blacklists placed on some German immigrants settled in Latin America during the Second World War. There were parts of the novel where it dragged, and there's a lot of telling not showing, but the full force of those ramifications really hit home in the book's final part.

However the writing style can be a chore. Dense, hard to navigate paragraphs - some of them going for two or three pages - caused my mind to wander and I would need to
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found parts of this book gripping and fascinating (partly due to my lack of familiarity with the relevant history), but my overall impression was one of frustration at what felt a bit like the author's self-indulgence. I think the book will be very 'studyable' - Vazquez uses plenty of literary innovation, as well as techniques that point to a range of influences, from Cervantes to Borges - but in my opinion these don't combine to form a coherent and enjoyable novel, and instead it can feel a ...more
A fascinating if slightly slow burning story about a journalist discovering an unknown fact about his father posthumous.
This premise covers little known events in recent Colombian history relating to the WWII, in particular the experiences of the German immigrants.

This novel tells a poignant story with a wealth of realism for good measure: The mundane ordinariness and extraordinary experiences of the characters intermingle throughout the entire book.
As the novel comes to a close, the pace
I started reading Los Informantes a week ago. This is my third book by Juan Gabriel Vasquez. I like his usage of the Spanish language. His style is different, he enters the character's mind and describes the many scenarios that could be developing. He takes difficult times in history that are not well known and makes you live the pain, the fear, the lies that people experience in order to survive; seldom thinking of the life time consequences.

The same style that attracts me to this writer I find
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library, fiction
This was a hard read. It's really a 3.5 for me, but I didn't want to give him a 3 because of the goodreads rating. There's a lot of stream of consciousness writing which isn't my favorite. Then the plot itself I found hard to follow and to remember who was who or to really care about each. I wanted to like this story a lot more than I did. It does have some gems of beautiful writing which make it worth reading, but if this is your first book by the author, I'd say shelve it for now and read ...more
Lucile Barker

7. The informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
Peeling the layers of an onion and finding out who betrayed who, back when European Jews were refugees in South America in Columbia. A son writes a book about informers, and does not realize that his father was one of them. This initiates a father son dispute, with a friend trying to act as mediator. Mysterious journeys, a hidden lover, and the danger of living in the country all add to the atmosphere. A bit convoluted, and I think I needed to know more
Mary Crawford
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gabriel writes a novel about the experiences of German citizens living in Columbia during the Second World War. His father reviews it scathingly which is a surprise and a disappointment to Gabriel. The novel then works through trust, national identity, relationships and betrayal. The development and political issues in Columbia are the background while the very personal story of Gabriel senior is woven in an impressive and powerful way. Not necessarily an easy read but well worth the effort.
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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. Actualmente vive cerca a su ciudad natal en Colombia.

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“A person is from wherever they feel best, and roots are for plants. Everyone knows that, don't they?” 9 likes
“también, al mismo tiempo, sé que lo pasado no es inmóvil ni está fijo, a pesar de la ilusión de los documentos: tantas fotografías y cartas y filmaciones que permiten pensar en la inmutabilidad de lo ya visto, lo ya escuchado, lo ya leído. No: nada de eso es definitivo.” 1 likes
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