30 August 2018

Book Review: News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez

Oh boy, this was at times a difficult read.

The thing is, this book is non-fiction. There is nothing magical about it: no cholera, no sandstorms, no adulterous virgins, nothing like the Gabriel García Márquez that I previously knew. Everything in here is fact, as García Márquez narrates the kidnapping of several prominent public figures in Colombia by Pablo Escobar. There were ten hostages altogether, and two of them die. The book covers a period of about six months, from the point when they all got abducted one by one, to when they all get released one by one.

García Márquez narrates in a very detailed manner, describing how the hostages dealt with the situation on a day to day basis. And in fact, what impressed on me the most was the slow psychological change that goes through the minds of the hostages. Different people deal with the situation in different ways: some regress to psychological immaturity, while others have a different defence mechanism altogether. From a behavioural standpoint, I find this variation very interesting.

At some point, I think I internalised what I was reading enough that I started having nightmares about being kidnapped and held hostage. I once had a dream where I was trapped in a house by a mad woman, who was torturing me using various methods, and I was made witness to several other gruesome acts that this woman committed to other victims, including murder and dismemberment. In any case, I was glad that it was just a dream.

In any case, I must say that García Márquez is a captivating writer, even with non-fiction. I don't know how he had access to this wealth of information, but it kept me turning the pages. I haven't really explored Colombia (I have been to Colombia, but only in the form of a 9-hour layover where I exited the airport in Bogota and explored the Old Town for a few hours), but I am glad that its reputation is way better now than before.

Reading this book also made me appreciate my place in the system of things. I live in a secure and safe country. I don't need to worry about cartels setting off bombs in public places just because they wanted to prove a point. Yes, there's terrorism nowadays but it is less rampant than in 1990s Colombia. Reading this book makes me appreciate my surroundings more.

So yes, I liked this book, and I would recommend it to people who want to know more about this period of history. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.


  1. García Márquez is a superb writer!! I haven't read all of his books because some time ago I decided to read only books written by women :) When I have cheated my challenge it was with García Márquez and with Bukowsky. If you read him in Spanish is those kind of authors that make you quit trying to write, because you feel that you will never write something as good as that.

  2. And I have been to Colombia twice. Medellin is a great city, culturally interesant. Cartagena and San Andrés are awesome places to go on a Caribbean holiday! I totally recommend it.

  3. So, you are living in Berlin now? Great!! I am living in Austria!!! :)

    1. Viovio,

      I was wondering, have we talked before? Your post seems to imply that you knew me before I was in Germany.