"News of a Kidnapping" Gabriel Garcia Marquez
About Gabriel Garcia Marquez • Born in Colombia in 1928. He began his writing career as a reporter in Colombia and later as a foreign correspondent in Europe, USA and Venezuela. • Among his most famous novels are One Hundred Years of Solitude (sold over 30 million copies), The General in his Labyrinth, Love in the Time of Cholera, No One Writes To The Colonel, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. • He was Colombia's most celebrated citizen long before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Widely revered, he is a symbol of Colombian national pride and lives in Bogota and Mexico City.
Garcia Marquez's Style of Fiction The first line from One Hundred Years of Solitude: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." "Literary Pentimento" Pentimento is the phenomenon of earlier painting showing through a layer or layers of paint on a canvas and it is GGM's style to present a novel in a style that does not appear to make sense. You flip back and forth through chapters to recall how one character related to another, to see what his or her fate was; many scholars view this book as history of Colombia, Latin America and more. "Magic Realism" – Nothing has to make sense because this is the way life already is. "Magical realism expands the categorizes of the real so as to encompass myth, magic and other extraordinary phenomena in Nature or experience which European realism excluded" (Gabriel García Márquez, eds. B McGuirk & R Cardwell, p45).
Garcia Marquez's fiction (cont.) • Garcia Marquez: ''What gives literary value is mystery. There is a need to tap into the magic in commonplace events.'' • In the west, we are conditioned to think that reality and rationality are the basis of our lives. GGM subverts this by opening up new vistas for us to peer into, to show us there are equally plausible worlds out there. • An example of the surreal prose from 'One Hundred Years Of Solitude': "Many fathomed a Messiah accosting central Earth from the skies, wading through clouds of pompousness, crowned by a whirl of flying fish." • The short story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is another example. • The author does not need to justify the mystery of events in 'Magic Realism' as realistic elements such as Capitalism are widespread also. It is as if the real and unreal were fused together, there is no turbulence between either side; it's normal. • How many people know everything? How many people know anything? The point is that no one is capable of knowing everything.Why does the old man have enormous wings? Who knows? Everyday events happen for no reason, too.
Background to "News of a Kidnapping" • Pablo Escobar's Medellin drug cartel and the 'Extraditables' - p.22: "We prefer a grave in Colombia to a cell in the United States" • Colombia produces around 80 per cent of the world's cocaine supply and Escobar was 'El Padrino' – the Godfather of the drug's greatest source. • Escobar & Co. werenot likely to be arrested in Colombia, but if extradited and tried in America, they would spend the rest of their lives in prison. • To give themselves extra bargaining power with Colombia's President Gaviria, the cartel began to kidnap prominent public figures. • Maruja Pachon asked Garcia Marquez to chronicle her six months in captivity but the author soon realised that her incarceration could not be separated from the nine others kidnapped during 1990/91. This book is the culmination of three years of research. • Two hostages were shot dead, eight were released as the drug traffickers began to break ranks and surrender. So ended at least one episode of Colombian narco-terrorism that García Márquez termed the "biblical holocaust that has been consuming Colombia for more than twenty years." • Colombia's culture of violence where the majority of people are very poor and life is cheaper still.
Themes of "News of a Kidnapping" • Life – the hostages' struggle to stay alive and the attempts by their families and the government's negotiators to rescue them in the face of huge adversity. • Death – of the two hostages whose ordeal the reader understand intimately. • War – 'La Violencia' – the strife in Colombia has last 45 years. Between 1988 and 1993 when Escobar was killed, 60,000 Colombians lost their lives. • GGM: “We will rot alive, in a war that cannot be won.”
Style of "News of a Kidnapping" in quotes • P6 - "Two men opened Maruja's door and another two opened Beatriz's. The fifth shot the driver in the head through the glass, and the silencer made it sound no louder than a sigh. Then he opened the door, pulled him out, and shot him three more times as he lay on the ground. It was another man's destiny: Angel Maria Roa had been Maruja's driver for only three days, and for the first time he was displaying his new dignity with the dark suit, starched shirt, and black tie worn by the chauffeurs who drove government ministers. His predecessor, who had retired the week before, had been FOCINE's[the government agency] regular driver for tenyears." • This quote has unmistakable ring of Garcia Marquez's prose style: laden with sadness, yet also tinged with black absurdity. • Garcia Marquez: "I'm really a journalist who writes some fiction on the side." • No need for Magic Realism here in this work of reportage – in the hands of someone like Garcia Marquez, such unbearable truth makes fiction pale by comparison. • The clear narrative – P.23 "Through his lawyers, Escobar demanded that non-extradition be made unconditional, that confession and indictment not be obligatory, that the prison be invulnerable to attack, and their families and followers be guaranteed protection. Holding terrorism in one hand and negotiation in the other, he began abducting journalists in order to twist the government's arm and achieve his demands. In two months, eight had been kidnapped. The abduction of Maruja and Beatriz seemed to be one more in that ominous series."
Style of "News of a Kidnapping" cont. • The narration: The odd chapters describe the hostages' plight, the even chapters narrate their families' situations and the government's dilemma. Garcia Marquez has always tended to jump back and forward in time, even on the same page, but here the plot is more lineal, more journalistic. • Though close to the families of the hostages, he rarely lapses into a judgmental, editorial-style; the tone is very journalistic, tense and urgent. • GGM: “Throughout the book I use not one single fact that is not truthful anddocumented, and the language that I use has not one single metaphor soas to keep the austerity of language in journalism.” • However, Garcia Marquez is too large a figure in Colombian life to disappear altogether. After all, when a bereaved mother holds a press conference in which she announces, 'This is the story of a death foretold,' she echoes the title of one of his novels. • Garcia Marquezalso stays true to the almost forensic passion for detail that his fiction has become famous for. This is the book's greatest strength. • Example of second half of p.41 to p. 42: "Villamizar had no military training..." – he then goes through members of the subject's family's army history while managing to illustrate their nature and their idiosyncracies.
"News of a Kidnapping" relative to class handouts by Mark Kramer, Bill Roorbach The style is "plain, but elegant; spare but lucid" – P.37/38: "I have some very bad news for you," he said. "What happened?" "They kidnapped Pacho." News of a kidnapping, no matter how painful, is not as irremediable as news of a murder, and Hernando breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God," he said, and then changed his tone. Literary journalists immerse themselves in their subjects' worlds and in background research. Literary journalists digress on occasion – in this case, it is the background to the kidnappings. Literary journalists write in an intimate voice, representing only the writer – not an ideology or the government.