News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez

News of a Kidnapping is my first foray into Gabriel García Márquez’s journalistic work. The book is based on the kidnapping of ten people, primarily journalists, some of whom are related to prominent Colombian politicians. It’s the era of Pablo Escobar, and the hostages are his bargaining chip in negotiations for his surrender.

Márquez focuses specifically on the experiences of the hostages, especially Maruja, whose husband ends up playing an integral role in negotiating for Escobar’s surrender. What is perhaps interesting, is that the hostages are not always kept in inhumane conditions. While they are clearly not ideal, a relationship also forms between the hostages and their captors, some of whom even treat their wards with respect, bringing them little gifts or things they have requested for.

Alongside the stories of the hostages, we’re also kept up to date on the situation regarding Escobar’s demands for surrender, and I found myself wondering how much of the same story is told in the popular Netflix series, Narcos. It almost makes me want to watch it to compare, but my list of things to watch is far too long already.

As for the writing, the text doesn’t flow as magically as Márquez’s fictional work, which is understandable enough considering the context of the book. However, due to its less-than-lyrical writing (which is still good, by the way), I found News of a Kidnapping a whole lot easier to read despite the difficult subject matter. Definitely worth the read if you’re a Márquez fan, or are fascinated by the whole Pablo Escobar enigma.

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