'The Informers' is a novel that deals with the echoes of the Second World War, namely: how do you live with the choices you made in wartime? However, though it concerns Columbia's murky wartime policies and people who both exploited them or fell victim to them, Vasquez's novel is far from just a book about the war.
Focused on the life of Gabriel Santoro, an ailing legal academic, 'The Informers' is narrated by his son (who has the same name) as he slowly unravels everything he thought he knew about his father. The novel is packed with ideas and theories. It obviously looks at the war and how Columbia responded to international pressure, but it also looks at how Columbians dealt with European immigration and how those immigrants (German Nazis and German Jews) dealt with each other. There is much here about fathers and sons, truth and deception, alienation and identity, assimilation and its value all of which is deftly woven into a gripping book.
Vasquez makes this an intensely readable book, with enough suspense to keep you hooked but above all with a real love of language. Both Gabriel Santoros revel in the use of language and much is said about native languages and the comfort that can be found in speaking them. Vasquez displays a real knowledge of the complexities of conversation (the tensions of things left unsaid, the awkwardness of talking face-to-face, the discomfort of hearing too much from a speaker) and cleverly juxtaposes this with the apparent certainties of the written word as Gabriel Santoro jr attempts to write his book as honestly as he can.
This is an unusual war story but a fascinating one with much that lingers beyond the final page. Definitely worth a read.