Gabriel García Márquez was approached by his friends Maruja Pachón de Villamizar and Alberto Villamizar in 1993 to write a book about the ordeal surrounding Maruja's abduction. García Márquez recalls that he was working on the first draft when he realized "it was impossible to separate her kidnapping from nine other abductions that occurred at the same time in Colombia." García Márquez decided to broaden his work to include the stories of all these captives, which lengthened the project to almost three years. The result is News of a Kidnapping, which was first published in Spanish in 1996 and in English the following year. In this work, García Márquez takes on the gargantuan task of describing the kidnappings and captivity of ten people. He depicts their families' reactions to these events as well as their efforts to free the hostages, but also attempts to place the entire incident in the context of Colombia's longstanding war on drugs and terrorism in general.
The fame of García Márquez—a Nobel Laureate—guaranteed that the American press would pay immediate and close attention to the work. Moreover, the drug problems of Colombia and the United States were—and remain so today—intertwined. The threat of extradition to the United States drove Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellín cartel, to order the kidnappings. However, it is to García Márquez's credit that he roots News of a Kidnapping firmly within Colombian soil, for the violence that the drug industry has wrought upon Colombian society is astronomical, indeed, hardly comprehensible to Americans. News of a Kidnapping depicts a world almost as surreal as any of García Márquez's novels, one that may shock American readers but one all too well-known to Colombians.
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