BOOKS: CHRONICLING LIVES ON HOLD

THE MASTER OF MAGIC REALISM VENTURES INTO THE MYSTIFYING WORLD OF A REAL-LIFE HOSTAGE DRAMA

The imps of literary happenstance could not have done better than News of a Kidnapping (Knopf; 291 pages; $25). It brings together the world's two best-known Colombians, symbolically locked in a struggle for their nation's soul. The first is the book's author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel prizewinner and one of the greatest living storytellers. The other is the late Pablo Escobar, once head of the Medellin drug cartel and a terrorist responsible for hundreds of violent deaths.

These two men, who achieved international fame and fortune peddling their respective though vastly different habit-forming products, seem to have been destined for a...

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