A novel by Ann Patchett, following a hostage situation in a South American country. A party being held by the apparently corrupt president is raided by a band of guerrillas seeking the release of political prisoners. Unfortunately, the President has left the party early, resulting in a bunch of hostages from all across the globe who the terrorists refuse to release, leading to a long hostage situation with lots of Stockholm Syndrome, Lima Syndrome, Star-Crossed Lovers and the heavy, inevitable weight of a tragic showdown as the army prepares to storm the mansion. The main PV characters are Japanese businessman Mr. Hosokawa, his translator Gen Watanabe, and opera singer Roxanne Cross. made into a movie in 2018.
Bel Canto provides examples of the following tropes.
- Aroused by Their Voice: About half of the cast feels this way towards Roxanne.
- Child Prodigy: Cesar, a fifteen-year old hostage taker is a very gifted singer who Roxanne takes up training some.
- Child Soldiers: Nearly all of the hostage takers.
- Genre Mashup: A romantic drama with the backdrop of a hostage crisis.
- Good Shepherd: Father Arguedas, who insists on staying to provide comfort to the hostages who aren't released, when he might have been released with the women and children and provides a lot of comfort. His fellow priest, Father Rolland subverts this by being am unfeeling, self-important Dirty Coward, who leaves the story fairly quickly.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Mr. Hosokawa and his employees seem to be honest, as well as highly successful, businessmen.
- Japan Takes Over the World: Mr. Hosokawa and his company represent this.
- The Lad-ette: Beatriz, one of the female terrorists who hangs out, drinks and shoots dice with her male counterpart.
- Married to the Job: Mr. Hosokawa is distant from his family due to his business, something the situation gies him time to reflect upon some.
- Nice Mean And In Between: The three rebel "Generals". Benjamin is a former teacher, and Family Man who shows the most compassion to the hostages and his men. Alfredo is a Hot-Blooded thug, and Hector is a stern, hard man who frightens his subordinates and isn't afraid of killing but has a certain sense of professionalism and honor.
- Odd Friendship: A new one develops between hostages, or hostage takers and hostages, about every other chapter.
- Rugged Scar: Alfredo has many of them, often from bullets.
- Team Switzerland: The mediator for the crisis is Swiss diplomat and hostage negotiator Joachim Messner, who gets dragooned into the initial negotiations due to being on vacation nearby and spends the next couple months there as well after Benjamin, Alfredo and Hector quickly come to prefer talking through him. Messner is portrayed as a reasonable, objective man who looks out for the best interest of the hostages and urges the hostage-takers to be realistic (and to surrender as bloodshed looks inevitable) but holds some sympathy for them.
- Tomboy And Girly Girl: Beatriz and Carmen, the two female hostage-takers.
- Vice-President Who?: Subverted with Vice-President Rueben Iglesias is portrayed as the Token Good Teammate of the government, and might have been in line for the presidency in a few years if he hadn't omitted political suicide by telling the hostage takers that the President had skipped the meeting simply because he wanted to watch a soap opera.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: There movement is named after a ten year old boy murdered by soldiers for passing out fliers, and they're demands are the release of people who really shouldn't be in jail. Even the objective hostage negotiator finds himself hoping they'll get away even as he knows that they won't.