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 Bogot� 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 Bogot� to a stranger's doorstep in 1990s Medell�n, 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 V�squez 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 V�squez comparisons to Sebald, Borges, Roth, and M�rquez, The Informers heralds the arrival of a major literary talent.
Betrayals public and private collide in Colombian author V�squez'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 V�squez's intricate narrative, morality is ambiguous and as treacherous as the early-1990s Bogot� backdrop, and its intelligence and unsparing tone will hold readers rapt through its many twists and turns. (Aug.)
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July 29, 2009
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