by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
translation by Anne McLean
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Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s masterful first novel, The Informers, published five years ago in Spanish and now available in a lyric translation by Anne McLean, comprises a dozen narrative strands—some laced, some tangled—that describe the same forgotten tragedy. Between 1941 and 1945, the Colombian government, under pressure from American leaders, interned and economically “blacklisted” hundreds of emigrant Germans suspected of having ties to the Axis cause. At the time, Nazi sympathizers lived throughout Colombia and elsewhere in South America, but many Jews and German nationals had fled persecution in their own country, and they, too, were trampled underfoot.
Vásquez, who was born in 1973, is particularly interested in how quickly ordinary Colombians turned on one another. Friends betrayed friends; sons betrayed
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