News of a Kidnapping—like any new work by García Márquez—received a great deal of attention when it was first published in Spanish in 1996, and the following year, in English. A welter of reviewers focused their attention on the myriad aspects of the book: its style, the events it depicted, the state of affairs in Colombia, the drug wars. While this book was a marked departure from the magical realism that characterizes García Márquez's fiction, few reviewers found this to be cause for complaint. The dramatic events that García Márquez has to work with easily provided what John Bemrose called in Maclean's, "thriller-like momentum." Indeed, as Michiko Kakutani pointed out in The Houston Chronicle, García Márquez "uses his novelist's instinct for emotional drama to give the reader a wonderfully immediate sense of his subjects' ordeal: their spiraling hopes and fears, their fantasies of escape, their desperation and despair." She was not alone in comparing this book to García Márquez's "most powerful fiction." R. Z. Sheppard's commentary in Time that News of a Kidnapping "brings together the world's two best-known Colombians, symbolically locked in a struggle for their nation's soul"—García Márquez and Pablo Escobar—illustrates the inherent narrative power of this non-fiction story.
García Márquez started out his career as a journalist, winning important prizes in that field, and reviewers noted that his skill had not lapsed. Wrote Sheppard, "One can almost hear García Márquez asking, Who? What? Where? When? and Why? on every minutely detailed page." Page also pointed out that the "terse" style of the book "reflects a conscious choice to let the hostages tell their own stories without impressing upon them the stamp of García Márquez's imagination.''
Reviewers, however, also noted that the...
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