miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2011

Los informantes

Los informantes (Punto de Lectura, 2009)
por Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Colombia, 2004

Los informantes, de Juan Gabriel Vásquez, hace una pregunta básica a nosotros: ¿qué harías si supiste que un familiar, digamos tu padre o tu madre, había delatado contra un inocente en un pasado lejano con consecuencias graves como resultado?  Dado que la novela se abre con dos citas de Demóstenes como epígrafes, que su tema principal es la traición, y que la traición principal de la obra ocurre a mediados de los cuarenta entre la comunidad de inmigrantes alemanes en Colombia, fue una sorpresa encontrar que su narración en primera persona y su tono fueran tan moderados.  Fernando Vallejo, ¿en dónde estás, amigo?  En todo caso, me gustó la obra a pesar de, o posiblemente a causa de, la mesura del novelista en cuanto a su acercamiento estilístico.  El argumento gira sobre la publicación de un libro de reportaje, Una vida en el exilio, y otro, Los informantes, escritos por el periodista Gabriel Santoro en los ochenta y los noventa, con ambos relacionados con las vidas de inmigrantes judíos y nazis en Colombia durante la época de las listas negras puse en marcha por la Segunda Guerra Mundial.  Cuando el padre de Santoro, un conocido profesor de Oratoria, da una paliza al libro de su hijo en público, provoca una reacción en cadena de otras historias entrelazadas que hace hincapié en la dificultad de encontrar justicia para algunos y la dificultad de encontrar expiación para otros.  Lejos de ser pesado, Los informantes es una obra divertida e inteligente aunque tal vez sea más interesante por lo temático que por la escritura en sí misma (de todas formas, me gustó suficientemente para tener ganas de leer la Historia secreta de Costaguana, la segunda novela de Vásquez, en algún momento).  (www.puntodelectura.com)

The Informers (Riverhead Books, 2010)
by Juan Gabriel Vásquez [translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean]
Colombia, 2004

Juan Gabriel Vásquez's The Informers poses an interesting question: what would you do if you learned that a family member, your father or your mother let's say, falsely accused an innocent person in the distant past with dire consequences as a result? Given that the novel opens with two Demosthenes quotes as epigraphs, that its main theme is betrayal, and that the principal betrayal in the work takes place in the mid-1940s among the community of German immigrants in Colombia, I was surprised to discover just how restrained its first-person narration and tone were.  Fernando Vallejo, where are you, my friend?  In any event, I enjoyed the work in spite of--or possibly because of--the novelist's moderation in his approach.  The plot pivots around the publication of one nonfiction book, A Life in Exile, and another, The Informers, written by journalist Gabriel Santoro in the '80s and '90s, with both efforts concerned with the lives of Jewish and Nazi immigrants in Colombia in the blacklist era ushered in by World War II.  When Santoro's father, a well-known professor of rhetoric, lambastes his son's earlier book in public, a chain reaction of other stories and events is set in motion which highlights the difficulty of obtaining justice for some and the difficulty of finding atonement for others.  Far from being a heavy read, The Informers is actually a fast-moving and intelligent work although the subject matter is maybe more interesting than the writing itself (that being said, I liked it enough to now want to read Vásquez's second novel, The Secret History of Costaguana, at some point).  (www.riverheadbooks.com)

Juan Gabriel Vásquez

*Want a second opinion?  C.B. James of Ready When You Are, C.B. reviewed The Informers last month here.*

9 comentarios:

  1. I'm tempted to say in general that where Nazis are concerned, a little narrative restraint is often a good thing. That said, I just finished a novella that totally fell flat due to lack of narrative flair (no Nazis, though!), so...meh. Glad this was an enjoyable read!

    ResponderEliminar
  2. *Emily: I'm with you on the Nazi thing, but the narrative restraint was cool in some ways and kind of odd in others (maybe writers like Bolaño and Vallejo have ruined subtlety for me with their searing styles!). Still, a very enjoyable read, yes indeed. Cheers!

    ResponderEliminar
  3. oh want read this now richard ,I think this question plus germans fleeing to germany is such a untap area in latin american lit know bolano touch on in it ,I like the vasquez I read such talent writer ,all the best stu

    ResponderEliminar
  4. *Stu: The question and the historical backdrop to the work were both novel to me, and I was pretty thoroughly entertained by Vásquez's well-crafted story/writing (even though the title you read by him sounded a little more risk-taking in some ways to me). In fact, I prob. should have emphasized Vásquez's craftsmanship more in my post.

    ResponderEliminar
  5. This sounds very interesting. To a certain degree it reminds me of Endo's The Sea and Poison that I just started.
    The premise is similar.

    ResponderEliminar
  6. Sometime I worry that narrative restraint is (in my eyes) often so undervalued, and enjoy your point about the "searing styles" of Bolano and Vallejo and the like. Culturally in general we have become so desensitized to quieter, more subtle moments in so many regards. So I would want to read this based upn that thought line alone plus your rec plus the author photo which I believe we discussed before. :)

    ResponderEliminar
  7. *Caroline: I guess that's another reason to follow your Endo readalong closely then. Cheers!

    *Frances: While I agree with you about narrative restraint being undervalued these days, I think my concerns about it here (so to speak) were that I thought Vásquez could have made a stronger case for himself by being a bit more aggressive from time to time. On the other hand, I loved that he wasn't over the top when he so easily could have been sucked into that type of thing. Your reasons for wanting to read the book are all good--even that last one!

    ResponderEliminar
  8. ¡Qué interesante, Richard! Estas obras, como bien dices, a veces son tan atractivas por el contenido que bien podemos obviar un poco el estilo. Tomo nota, gracias.
    ¡Saludos!!

    ResponderEliminar
  9. *Andrómeda: ¡Hola! y favor de perdonar la demora en responderte. Lo interesante es que, aunque Los informantes no me pareció como algo fuera de este mundo en mayo, sí sigo pensando en ello un mes más tarde. Supongo que me impresionó mas de lo que pensaba. ¡Saludos!

    ResponderEliminar