The novel’s brilliance is that we, wanting to know what happened to that sleeping girl, become Mallarino’s accomplices; the novel’s genius is that we, greedy for certainty, become Mallarino’s prey. Like Samanta we are left with something unforgettable ... Reputations can be read and enjoyed on many levels: for its reflections on art, memory and fate; for its account of recent Colombian history at a slant, which is Vásquez’s trademark approach; for its Jungian exploration of lives intersecting ... a masterly book.
...line for line Vásquez is a penetrating force, and the most pressing Colombian writer today ... I'd have loved to see Vásquez delve deeper into some of the consequences of art imitating life, where, in his words, 'opinions have their effects.' But Reputations is a powerful, concentrated achievement.
The first section of the book is full of promise ... Vásquez’s prose, translated by Anne McLean, is spare and effective, with a pleasing precision ... However, as the story develops some bewildering flaws spoil things ... what I was hoping would be a meditation on the pressures on free speech during a civil war, on the human impact of terrorism, on the tension between the desire for recognition and artistic credibility, gets bogged down in misguided sexual dynamics.
...the appeal of Reputations is not its quickly concatenating plot but the questions about the motives for and the effects of events ... Though briskly paced, Reputations is sometimes heavy with the kind of ponderousness that omniscience seems to encourage ... An admirer of Vásquez’s wider and larger novels, I’m both disappointed by and fascinated with Reputations.
....a profound, exquisitely observed, suspenseful and deeply moving novel. It confirms his status as one of the very finest writers of our time ... Reputations achieves technical mastery without sacrificing readability. Vazquez moves seamlessly between past and present, and from the particular to the general.
Post-Charlie Hebdo, Vásquez’s choice of a cartoonist protagonist is an inspired one — especially in Colombia, where speaking truth to power requires considerable cojones. But the nuts and bolts of Mallarino’s art are under-specified. The examples of his satire we are given don’t ever quite seem to justify the reverence, or fear, that Mallarino’s art provokes ... instead of scrutinising the flaws in the soul of a liberal man, Reputations too often leaves it frustratingly unmapped.
Reputations is not quite a repudiation of the media’s power to suck the marrow from others. But by bringing Mallarino to a savage collision with the moment that afforded the cartoonist his prominence, Vásquez warns of the fragility inherent in such power ... A particularly exquisite device is the use of a caricaturist’s eyes, as Vásquez reduces people to features and details, paradoxically flattening them and giving them irrevocable shape ... The effect is something like a political cartoon.
...while it may be his shortest, it doesn’t stint on incident, revelation or suspense. Mallarino is a fully-fleshed creation: an artist who in pursuit of the truth has assiduously humiliated and incurred the wrath of ruthless generals and drug barons, but who has also damaged weaker and more vulnerable personages ... reinforces the fact that Vásquez’s fiction is closer to that of Mario Vargas Llosa. With more smart and provocative novels like this one, he could well become his natural heir.