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Oblivion: A Memoir

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Oblivion is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987. Twenty years in the writing, it paints an unforgettable picture of a man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America’s recen Oblivion is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987. Twenty years in the writing, it paints an unforgettable picture of a man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America’s recent history.


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Oblivion is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987. Twenty years in the writing, it paints an unforgettable picture of a man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America’s recen Oblivion is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987. Twenty years in the writing, it paints an unforgettable picture of a man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America’s recent history.

30 review for Oblivion: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    When I reached the point of the book where Hector Abad describes the murder of his father (also Hector Abad) I was reading in a pub. I put the book down and looked up, tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. The few people scattered around paid no attention to me, continued on with their conversations, were oblivious to what had just happened in front of me. I re-read the following pages over and over again, not taking anything in. Even though you know it’s coming, it’s a raw moment when it hap When I reached the point of the book where Hector Abad describes the murder of his father (also Hector Abad) I was reading in a pub. I put the book down and looked up, tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. The few people scattered around paid no attention to me, continued on with their conversations, were oblivious to what had just happened in front of me. I re-read the following pages over and over again, not taking anything in. Even though you know it’s coming, it’s a raw moment when it happens. I pictured Hector Abad standing up and walking away from his computer or pen and paper, gathering himself together, trudging back to add a few more lines before walking away again. The sheer eloquence and thoughtfulness of this memoir belies a courage that Abad possibly didn’t realise he had. When he was younger he seems to have tried to live up to impossible expectations that thought his father had for him. The inexplicable desire for the big red book of sports rules was to me a natural aspect of childhood, those fierce desires from who knows where, but Abad thinks only of how he let his father down. The memoir has moments of wry humour, particularly where religion is involved, his rejection of the backwards Catholicism of his region of Colombia, fostered by his more progressive father, while at the same time he acknowledges the impact it has on the family through his mother. This is perhaps at it’s most sharpest when his sister Marta dies, as Abad puts it, the watershed moment of the family’s life. The strength of the bond of the family is tested to it’s limit through this and yet it is external events that tear into the family later on. The horrific collapse into brutal violence in Medellin, as well as Colombia as a whole is a shadow that expands over the pages, culminating in a senseless and tragic ending for a man who spent his life working to help people less fortunate than himself, supported by his incredible wife, who built up a business to allow him to do what he wanted without worrying about supporting the family. At the end of the book, Hector Abad, makes a speech in which he admits he doesn’t think he is the man his father was, yet his father loved him unconditionally and supported him right to the end of his life. They idolised each other and this book is an intimate and poignant portrait of a family, a relationship and above all a father whose dedication to others did not detract from his devotion to his family and his son. By the end I couldn’t decide if Abad was trying, finally, to emerge from his fathers shadow, or staying safely within it’s security. Whichever it is, he should be proud that he has written such a powerful and eloquent book that has painted not only a moving portrait of his fathers’ strength and conviction, but of his own as well. (blog review here)

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Every once and awhile you get to read a biography that was written with such empathy, resonance and beauty, that after finishing the book, you close the cover and say "wow, that was a delight". This is a sad tale, a story about the love a child for his father, and that father is murdered for his political views. Medellin, Colombia in the 1980s had degenerated into a very violent place. The state backed militias were trying to eradicate the "lleftist communists" with such a fury that they even re Every once and awhile you get to read a biography that was written with such empathy, resonance and beauty, that after finishing the book, you close the cover and say "wow, that was a delight". This is a sad tale, a story about the love a child for his father, and that father is murdered for his political views. Medellin, Colombia in the 1980s had degenerated into a very violent place. The state backed militias were trying to eradicate the "lleftist communists" with such a fury that they even read their names on the radio before they were murdered. This included Dr. Abad Gomez. Doctor Héctor Abad Gómez tried to build support for fixing the issues, before they became problems with his nation's poor. Sadly he was challenged and forced to leave the country to work for other aide agencies for his beliefs. But he returns to find work at the university even though its a rocky road. Upon his forced retirement from the university he started a human rights group advocating for peace. Every day people went missing and this brought him closer to death. His son, Héctor Abad Faciolince retells the tale almost twenty years with a clear message. Following his father's advice, he refused seeking vengeance and instead chronicles his father's life. He wasn't a saint but he always sought to see the humanity in every person. He chronicles his sister's Marta's death at age 17, pointing out how the "happy family" changed forever and his parents threw themselves into work and raising the other children. Abad Faciolince was under his father's spell for most of his life and with his death, his life changed as well, fleeing the country and beginning his life as a writer. But the memory drew him back to write this haunting tale that had me turning pages. When his sister and father died, I was choked up. But it was his reflections on fate, life and love that really makes this book. Quoting Antonio Machado, that in the final hours of war, "the men of peace are remembered, never the people who wanted the war". Even in our troubled times, this book becomes a call for peace. Doctor Abad Gómez died for it. Read in Spanish.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mom

    Wow. This is an extremely difficult book for me to review. Oblivion is an impassioned memorial to the author's father, Dr.Hector Abad Gomez, who was assassinated by Colombian paramilitaries in response to his leftist, humanist writings. The writing is incredible, making the horror of those years of violence and death squads immediate and wrenching. The author idolized his father and I found the first two thirds of the book tiresome because of the constant drumbeat of how perfect his father was. O Wow. This is an extremely difficult book for me to review. Oblivion is an impassioned memorial to the author's father, Dr.Hector Abad Gomez, who was assassinated by Colombian paramilitaries in response to his leftist, humanist writings. The writing is incredible, making the horror of those years of violence and death squads immediate and wrenching. The author idolized his father and I found the first two thirds of the book tiresome because of the constant drumbeat of how perfect his father was. On page 209, he writes "I don't want to write hagiography" but by then (I felt) it was more than a little late! A more balanced picture of his father would have been more appealing -- Dr. Gomez was a courageous principled man, and the idealized portrait was unnecessary. The author is a pessimist given to depression, and that overwhelming constant despair was at times hard to take. Speaking of his childhood (in a privileged wealthy loving home), he writes of the house "that God had chosen to smite, just like any other house, like all the houses on this Earth, with his fury, with heavy doses of misery, absurd deaths, incurable pains and diseases." His sister Marta dies of cancer at 16: " In the same way that the essence can be extracted from a flower to make perfume, or the spirit distilled from wine, at times the suffering and pain in our lives is concentrated and distilled until it becomes devastating, unbearable. This is how it was with my sister Marta's death, which destroyed my family, maybe forever." "And still today, if my father were alive, he would cry at the memory, just as my mother hasn't stopped crying, or any one of us... because life, after experiences like this, is nothing but an absurd and senseless tragedy for which there is no consolation." (The author cannot sense the sweet perfume that is extracted from the flower, the fine flavor of the wine.) But in spite of the excess hagiography, in spite of the almost unrelenting despair, I found the book beautiful, especially the last few chapters. As he writes, "It is possible that all this will be for nought; no word can bring him back to life--the story of his life and his death will not give new breath to his bones, will not bring back his laughter, or his immense courage, or his persuasive and vigorous words--but in any case I need to tell it. His murderers remain at large; every day they grow in strength, and I cannot fight them with my fists. It is only with my fingers, pressing one key after another, that I can tell the truth and bear witness to the injustice. I use his own weapon: words. What for? For nothing; or for the most simple and essential reason: so it will be known. To extend his memory a little longer, before the inevitable oblivion." For two-thirds of the book, I couldn't imagine why I was even bothering to finish the book, but in the end the beautiful language told an incredible and moving story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aistė

    My heart broke multiple times while reading this book. I am still not able to stomach most of the torture and reasons for torture that are described, yet I find it fascinating how humans deal with grief stemming from violence. The ideas of Héctor Abad seemed so much less radical to me in the beginning. He taught his children and everyone else what any father should: education, care for others, the importance of freedom of thought and opinion. He was nonetheless a human who remains appreciated by My heart broke multiple times while reading this book. I am still not able to stomach most of the torture and reasons for torture that are described, yet I find it fascinating how humans deal with grief stemming from violence. The ideas of Héctor Abad seemed so much less radical to me in the beginning. He taught his children and everyone else what any father should: education, care for others, the importance of freedom of thought and opinion. He was nonetheless a human who remains appreciated by those close to him. Although his portrayal might be an understatement of his true ideals, this memoir truly highlighted how little (or much) is enough to put you on someone's death list. And yet the takeaway was not death in its entirety, it was a life well lived, it was a life of love, appreciation, sticking with the ones you hold dearest. I cannot imagine loss in light of all of these achievements. And this memoir describes vividly what it meant to live, to be part of something supportive yet so destructive. A force of a country with all that is happening to it was enough to destroy so many of its people.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Edgar Duarte

    My wife recommended this book as a beautiful story about childhood and paternity. She overcame her sensibility over the sad and painful and sense of the story. Nevertheless, she also told me how heartbreaking was the final stage of the book. After its reading, I had to take a deep breath and tried to define the multiple feelings experienced during those two weekends of focused reading. On one side, the story represents the value of families in the region of Antioquia, Colombia. An entangled mixt My wife recommended this book as a beautiful story about childhood and paternity. She overcame her sensibility over the sad and painful and sense of the story. Nevertheless, she also told me how heartbreaking was the final stage of the book. After its reading, I had to take a deep breath and tried to define the multiple feelings experienced during those two weekends of focused reading. On one side, the story represents the value of families in the region of Antioquia, Colombia. An entangled mixture of male chauvinism, hard-working, liberal thoughts, strong religious beliefs, and some drops of adventure gives rise to the author's family, a scenario for describing the second big side of this story: parenthood. The strong links between father and son are described in a way that makes you think about yourself in those roles. Kindness, affection, and teaching are just a few characteristics of Hector Abad Gómez, becoming in this way a sort of hero in this story. Finally, the last side, the death, the murder. I can't remember descriptions like those. Perhaps, the end of Santiago Nassar in "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" is quite similar. Anyway, the point is just heartbreaking. You become directly affected when reading those chapters in such a personal mood that you feel the pain, the blood, the fear, and the anger inside your soul. This is one of the best books that I've ever read, and for its author, I just have four words: I will not forgive.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Yassmine Azeez

    a must-read kinda book <3

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erion Murati

    ...the oblivion that awaits can be deferred a moment more!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Catching up with books I read a couple of months ago, I'm way behind. This is one of the ones I said I would read more in the contemporary Latin-American literature. It is by a Colombian writer - Héctor Abad Faciolince. I started reading it without knowing what it was about (as I seem to do now quite often). And in the beginning it seemed to be a pretty novel about paternity. But don't be fooled - half way through it all gets quite dark and political. It took me a while to realize that the "nove Catching up with books I read a couple of months ago, I'm way behind. This is one of the ones I said I would read more in the contemporary Latin-American literature. It is by a Colombian writer - Héctor Abad Faciolince. I started reading it without knowing what it was about (as I seem to do now quite often). And in the beginning it seemed to be a pretty novel about paternity. But don't be fooled - half way through it all gets quite dark and political. It took me a while to realize that the "novel" is in reality a sort of autobiography, focusing on the father of the author. When I started realizing this and the political message of the book, I was a bit annoyed that so many pages had been spent rambling and talking about how nice his family was. But the truth is that the writer knows better than me, and as I moved along in the book, the thought behind his decision became very clear and I could appreciate his way of involving me, not only in his family, but also in the cultural environment of Colombia. I have Colombian friends, and I remember hearing them very excitedly talk about a sort of peace agreement that was getting signed there. I saw them happy, but I don't think I was able to comprehend the magnitud of the problem and the solution of which they were speaking. I still don't think I can fully comprehend; I think it would take a lot of research, or having grown in that environment to have the feelings that they had that day, but I think this book brought me closer to understanding. I think it is good. It has a good balance of interesting points regarding human relationships (particularly family ones), and political situations (that, although different, has some sad parallels between Colombia and Mexico). It is written in a strange way - going through the ramblings and the non-linearity, or the foreshadowing of what will happen from quite early on - and I think if it was written in a different way it might be slightly more enjoyable. But maybe the point is not for it to be "enjoyable", but to bring a little bit of understanding.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Garzon

    My education on Colombia has truly only been from my direct family and my travels there every 4 years. I shy away from non-Colombians explaining the country and it’s past; the root is me being self protective against the bias that unfortunately many people have as it relates to drugs or other topics that make the country, like every country, imperfect. This book changed a lot for me. I originally bought it because the story’s center is about a man and his love for his father, and I have a deep l My education on Colombia has truly only been from my direct family and my travels there every 4 years. I shy away from non-Colombians explaining the country and it’s past; the root is me being self protective against the bias that unfortunately many people have as it relates to drugs or other topics that make the country, like every country, imperfect. This book changed a lot for me. I originally bought it because the story’s center is about a man and his love for his father, and I have a deep love for my Colombian father. It was certainly that, but even more was an opening into what my dad lived through and his and my family’s experience there before I was born. This book allowed me to see deeper into the country’s political past, made me laugh at the similarities I often found in my own family, and opened up great conversations to have with my dad. I’m very very grateful for this book and I look forward to reading more from other Colombian authors.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andreea

    The legacy of a father.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Grech

    This book about the intense love, the affection, the silence carried by the father-son relationship is extremely moving. This is definately on my list of favourite books. A must read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lara Lawson

    The English translation was not very good. It is obvious the translators were European and have never seen Colombia,which is a shame because you lose a lot of nuance and accuracy in description.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    I had listened to Hector during a panel at Singapore Writers' Festival last week and was so moved (& so impressed by the chapter he read) that I immediately bought the book after the reading (& was lucky enough to have it signed!). I read it steadily throughout the week during my commutes and today I completed it sitting below my block. When the sadder chapters arrived I found myself tearing up in trains and finally when I got to the final 20 pages I found myself with a pained throat and watery I had listened to Hector during a panel at Singapore Writers' Festival last week and was so moved (& so impressed by the chapter he read) that I immediately bought the book after the reading (& was lucky enough to have it signed!). I read it steadily throughout the week during my commutes and today I completed it sitting below my block. When the sadder chapters arrived I found myself tearing up in trains and finally when I got to the final 20 pages I found myself with a pained throat and watery eyes from holding back tears. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for him to have written such a book, to recount such a memory. That it took 20 years for him to finally pen it down is something that is understandable. I cannot imagine what it must have taken to write it down, but I am thankful that he shared the story of his father & his family to the world. During the panel someone asked about challenges & aside from the obvious he said that the literary tradition was replete with stories about bad fathers. Daddy issues. And how would people take his book that is about a good father, a perfect father, a father that he loved so much and in his eyes could barely do any wrong. And in fact I find that his book was such a wonderful read precisely because it provides a model for fatherhood that isn't made toxic by a certain brand of masculinity. He did mention that his father had a certain kind of machismo, but it was wonderful to read how his father was unashamed of his exuberant physical affections with his son, kissing & hugging him even if it was seen as 'queer' by relatives. Saying a string of verbal affections that one might find embarrassing. In a society where the expression of direct affection by men is not encouraged, it's wonderful to read an example where the opposite is done. His father truly sounds like an incredible human being, a person whose moral & humanist values are worth emulating. I truly enjoyed the bits where Hector talked about the way his father dealt with the challenges and the confusions of his son; his open-mindedness, his unconditional love. I have learned so much for my own personal & political convictions. The book deals mostly with celebrating the love, social justice work, ideas, & charity that his father was involved in, and only the last few chapters actually dealt with his murder. Hector wrote it as a way of stretching out the memory of his father a little bit more, before it is inevitably casted into the oblivion of forgetting, the way we forget about so many people. I'm sure that will happen, but I am so glad that I have known of his father in my own little way too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kakuzō Akutagawa

    We are already the forgetfulness we will be. The elemental dust that shuns us And that was once the ochrous Adam, And now is all men, and all those we will be. We are already, entombed, the two dates of the beginning and the end. The casket, the obscene corruption and the shroud, Death’s triumphs and the lamentations. I am no fool that clings to the magic sound of his name, Full of hope, I think of him who Will be unaware of who I ever was. Under the sky’s indifferent azure, This meditation is a consolatio We are already the forgetfulness we will be. The elemental dust that shuns us And that was once the ochrous Adam, And now is all men, and all those we will be. We are already, entombed, the two dates of the beginning and the end. The casket, the obscene corruption and the shroud, Death’s triumphs and the lamentations. I am no fool that clings to the magic sound of his name, Full of hope, I think of him who Will be unaware of who I ever was. Under the sky’s indifferent azure, This meditation is a consolation. -Jorge Luis Borges (The epitaph) This book was a punch to the gut, a reality check, a tragedy, a memoir of one's tender years and the dairy of a life of tragedy. A book so filled with life teachings, how an amazing life was lost. It's been a while since I've read non-fiction, but holy shit just thinking about how everything that happens in this book happened in real life just devastates me. "And if my memories come into harmony with some of you, and if what I have felt (and will cease to feel) is understandable and identifiable with something you also feel or have felt, then this forgetfulness that we will be can be postponed for a moment more, in the fleeting reverberation of your neurons, thanks to the eyes, few or many, that will ever stop at these letters." This entire book hits too close to home, makes me so uncomfortable thinking about my life as I've lived it, and probably how it'll play out. An amazing read, there'll probably be a day when I forget this book (usually it takes me a year or two to forget a book), but I'll never forget the feelings, the sheer love and hate of to our continent. Yeah, good book, I just have so much to say about it that I just won't.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marie Belcredi

    I read this book with much anticipation as it was marketed as a best seller. This book could do with a bit of editing. The tiresome banging on about the almost foolish doting of the father on the son where the son could do no wrong was almost too much especially after the son showed great cowardice and did nothing to help his sister who was drowning. I'm not sure if the sisters got such apish admiration. The author does not say. One hilarious chapter talks about the rosary that was said in his g I read this book with much anticipation as it was marketed as a best seller. This book could do with a bit of editing. The tiresome banging on about the almost foolish doting of the father on the son where the son could do no wrong was almost too much especially after the son showed great cowardice and did nothing to help his sister who was drowning. I'm not sure if the sisters got such apish admiration. The author does not say. One hilarious chapter talks about the rosary that was said in his grandmother's house that he would be forced to go to . He describes a congregation of disabled freakish people including, for example, a relative who had had his larynx removed and talked through his stomach just making gurgling noises. However, towards the end when his family met with misfortune and finally his father is gunned down on his way to a meeting, the book moves to a the heartrending sorrow felt by the family. The doctor spent his life trying to improve the life of the poor in Columbia by working to get clean water, clean milk and vaccinations to these people. Simple community health measures that all countries should have. Vested interests however worked against him in all ways. Corrupt politicians and the paramilitaries, both right and left. The author expresses his sorrow in a touching and heartfelt way and, as he says, the words in the book will survive the corrupt politicians and warlords that opposed him and in the end murdered him. They will fade away but hopefully the book will survive. At this point the book dwells on death and how fleeting our lives are in our universe that just proceeds whether we live or not. We are all headed to oblivion.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Vasiac

    Just beautiful. I can only dream to be as inspiring to my daughter as the author's father was to him. I finished this book months ago but forgot to update its status and I still think of it. The author gave us a glimpse of their lives in such an intimate and loving manner that made you wish you could have been part of their amazing family. Just beautiful. I can only dream to be as inspiring to my daughter as the author's father was to him. I finished this book months ago but forgot to update its status and I still think of it. The author gave us a glimpse of their lives in such an intimate and loving manner that made you wish you could have been part of their amazing family.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raghad

    445 A result : sobbing sensitive nose

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Clarke Gunter

    "We are all condemned to dust and to oblivion....we survive for a few fragile years after death in the memory of others." This is the beautifully written homage to the author's father, Hector Abad Gomez, a loving, caring, and intellectual man who was a medical doctor, university professor, and human rights leader whose vision of healthcare for all Colombians led him to found the Colombian National School of Public Health. This gentle man, who envisioned a better world and tirelessly worked to ma "We are all condemned to dust and to oblivion....we survive for a few fragile years after death in the memory of others." This is the beautifully written homage to the author's father, Hector Abad Gomez, a loving, caring, and intellectual man who was a medical doctor, university professor, and human rights leader whose vision of healthcare for all Colombians led him to found the Colombian National School of Public Health. This gentle man, who envisioned a better world and tirelessly worked to make it a reality, was brutally murdered by conservative Colombian paramilitaries in 1987 during a time when brutality against liberal thinkers was common. This wonderful book tells the story of the author's childhood in Medellin, Colombia, the only boy among five sisters, growing up with a father who was devoted to him, teaching him about life and sharing with him all the beauty of poetry and books and classical music, and a mother who was the practical head of the household and a savvy business woman. But the book is primarily about the truly special and mutually adoring relationship between a father and a son and that son's powerful meditation on the loss of his father. I don't think I have read a more powerful or exquisitely written memoir. I highly recommend this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sancho

    This is a very sentimental book. Hector Abad manages to express the endless love he has for his father, an undeniable positive and influential character of 20th century's Colombia. Victim of his beliefs and ideology, he is murdered in the streets of Medellín, as many other good people have in such a violent and intolerant country. I see my own father in many of his stories and particularly enjoyed the dilemmas he had with a highly religious society, including his own family. To many, it might seem This is a very sentimental book. Hector Abad manages to express the endless love he has for his father, an undeniable positive and influential character of 20th century's Colombia. Victim of his beliefs and ideology, he is murdered in the streets of Medellín, as many other good people have in such a violent and intolerant country. I see my own father in many of his stories and particularly enjoyed the dilemmas he had with a highly religious society, including his own family. To many, it might seem a biased, self-centered book, but I think that anybody with Hector's writing talent should use it in any way they feel. Many, like me, will find this book engaging, beautifully written and even compatible with their own life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ghada

    usually when I read latin American literature I regret it so much that I don't read it in its original language, but not with this amazing book. as great this book was so was the arabic translation. the translator here must be a writer himself as I presume. This book is not for close minded people who would flinch at the idea of how you could be a good religious person yet don't impose religion in every aspect of life, they might interpret the character's believes as atheism which in my own humb usually when I read latin American literature I regret it so much that I don't read it in its original language, but not with this amazing book. as great this book was so was the arabic translation. the translator here must be a writer himself as I presume. This book is not for close minded people who would flinch at the idea of how you could be a good religious person yet don't impose religion in every aspect of life, they might interpret the character's believes as atheism which in my own humble opinion was not. Anyway this was a book telling the story of an extraordinary man and that special unique relation with his son ( the writer) narrating a bloody sector of Colombia's history that ended by his unfortunate assassination. A very good book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    World Literature Today

    "...this work demonstrates the complexities of contemporary Colombian society as much as it does the burning desire to rescue the public works of the author’s beloved father, Héctor Abad Gómez—physician, professor, public-health specialist, and former president of the Antioquia Human Rights Defense Committee." - Adele Newson-Horst, Morgan State University This book was reviewed in the July/August 2012 issue of World Literature Today. The full review is available at our website: http://www.worldli "...this work demonstrates the complexities of contemporary Colombian society as much as it does the burning desire to rescue the public works of the author’s beloved father, Héctor Abad Gómez—physician, professor, public-health specialist, and former president of the Antioquia Human Rights Defense Committee." - Adele Newson-Horst, Morgan State University This book was reviewed in the July/August 2012 issue of World Literature Today. The full review is available at our website: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.com/2...

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

    This book, by the well-known Colombian writer Hector Abad Faciolince, is about his remarkable father, an internationally known physician and public health expert who was murdered by a right-wing death squad in Medellin in 1987. Both warmly humorous and tragic, it is a compelling story of a son's admiration and love, and a father's unyielding dedication to his principles and beliefs in the face of danger. Es un libro que es chistoso y muy, muy triste al mismo tiempo. This book, by the well-known Colombian writer Hector Abad Faciolince, is about his remarkable father, an internationally known physician and public health expert who was murdered by a right-wing death squad in Medellin in 1987. Both warmly humorous and tragic, it is a compelling story of a son's admiration and love, and a father's unyielding dedication to his principles and beliefs in the face of danger. Es un libro que es chistoso y muy, muy triste al mismo tiempo.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    This is not a gripping page-turner, it's more akin to savouring warm chocolate/hot tea on an incredibly cold and snowy day. It's an ode to his father, which is not something you read about often, set against a backdrop of colombian privilege, catholicism and nascent battles, and one man's rebellious nature against it all. Lots of humour, lots of tears, lots of real life. Lots of good parenting tips, too! This is not a gripping page-turner, it's more akin to savouring warm chocolate/hot tea on an incredibly cold and snowy day. It's an ode to his father, which is not something you read about often, set against a backdrop of colombian privilege, catholicism and nascent battles, and one man's rebellious nature against it all. Lots of humour, lots of tears, lots of real life. Lots of good parenting tips, too!

  24. 5 out of 5

    karen

    Obviously I read the English translated version! Learned about this book from Anthony Bourdain's food show covering Colombia. I learned a lot about Colombia's politics. What I loved the most was this amazing story about a father who seems like he raised all of his kids the right way. This book was an inspiration and very enjoyable to read. Obviously I read the English translated version! Learned about this book from Anthony Bourdain's food show covering Colombia. I learned a lot about Colombia's politics. What I loved the most was this amazing story about a father who seems like he raised all of his kids the right way. This book was an inspiration and very enjoyable to read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suzannah

    Read Sept-Oct 2017. A gift from Manuela and Ignacio, knowing my interest in public health. Héctor Abad Gómez, who the biography is about, was a friend of Ignacio's. I feel like a true Colombian now that I've read this story that so many in Colombia have read. The first book I ever read in Spanish for fun. I loved reading this book. Read Sept-Oct 2017. A gift from Manuela and Ignacio, knowing my interest in public health. Héctor Abad Gómez, who the biography is about, was a friend of Ignacio's. I feel like a true Colombian now that I've read this story that so many in Colombia have read. The first book I ever read in Spanish for fun. I loved reading this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura Perilla

    A really good and touching biography of the author's father, where not only the narration of real true events lived by the Abad family takes place, but the feelings the author has toward the most important figure of his life, his father. Takes you to part of colombian history in the nineteen hundreds and to mind and heart of a little boy, a teen and later an adult. Easy to read. Recommended. A really good and touching biography of the author's father, where not only the narration of real true events lived by the Abad family takes place, but the feelings the author has toward the most important figure of his life, his father. Takes you to part of colombian history in the nineteen hundreds and to mind and heart of a little boy, a teen and later an adult. Easy to read. Recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrés Meza-Escallón

    Absolutely beautiful! It remembers a part of our history in a way so intimate so personal that it is inevitable to feel related, to recall our own memories of our childhood and the part of history that we lived.One of the best books I have ever read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy_liakopoulou

    Héctor Abad Faciolince’s Memoir is the portrait of the ideal Father, the recreation of a happy childhood and the representation of a brutal political assassination. Hector Abad Senior was a Medicine Professor and human rights activist in an epoch when, talking about access to healthcare for all children in Colombia, was considered dangerously “communistic”. His courage, empathy, social consciousness and consistence made him a role model in the eyes of his son. At the same time, his child-focused Héctor Abad Faciolince’s Memoir is the portrait of the ideal Father, the recreation of a happy childhood and the representation of a brutal political assassination. Hector Abad Senior was a Medicine Professor and human rights activist in an epoch when, talking about access to healthcare for all children in Colombia, was considered dangerously “communistic”. His courage, empathy, social consciousness and consistence made him a role model in the eyes of his son. At the same time, his child-focused pedagogical approach aimed at making his children better, through making them happier. Happy memories in a most difficult period in the history of a country full of potential, that seems to go wasted. Apart from its obvious virtues, the novel, dealing with so many social, existential, psychological and political issues, has the extra advantage of being able to talk differently to each one of its readers. I will refer to three points that touched or bothered me (which sometimes is the same) deeply while reading it: I will never forget the scene at the morgue, where the author’s father took his son, just to show him the dark side of life, reminding him that there is always an end to happiness and endlessness. The experiment ended up in endless vomiting for the son and feelings of guilt for the father. And I can’t help but wondering what is it that makes people want to put their children through this theoretical encounter with tough luck. Is it their guilt for being effortlessly happy and making them happy too? Is it the fear that their children will never be prepared enough (which is true) for it? or is it a way to exorcise the evil you can’t control? There is a story in one of the chapters , where the author refers to his sister’s almost drowning. He says that he felt as if he were frozen and could no more react. His father intervened rescuing the girl and strongly rebuked him for his passivity. Well, yes, Passivity is precisely my point. I’m really impressed at the passivity, neglectfulness, procrastination, (you name it) people -myself included - react when it’s not their life which is at steak. It is a quite interesting psychological phenomenon, how inertia can be so powerful in social situations. I will cite the last point verbatim: “A father as perfect as he was can become unbearable...there comes a moment, through a confused and schizophrenic process, when you’d wish that ideal god wouldn’t be there to always tell you yes, everything is fine, everything is as you want it to be. It’s as if, toward the end of adolescence, it’s not an ally you need, but a competitor”. No comments, dear parents http://bookavities.blogspot.com/2020/...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yannicke

    As with all other books that deal with a story so intense, important and heart wrenching, Hector Abad's is a difficult one to review. This is, in part, an emotional and personal ode to a father - a wonderful father who, incidentally, reminds me of my own father in many ways -, but more importantly an homage to a human rights defender in Colombia, representing all those who joint him in the fight for a more humane, safe and free existence. For the bravery of Hector Abad sr., to honour his work, a As with all other books that deal with a story so intense, important and heart wrenching, Hector Abad's is a difficult one to review. This is, in part, an emotional and personal ode to a father - a wonderful father who, incidentally, reminds me of my own father in many ways -, but more importantly an homage to a human rights defender in Colombia, representing all those who joint him in the fight for a more humane, safe and free existence. For the bravery of Hector Abad sr., to honour his work, and to acknowledge the suffering of his loved ones, I wanted to give this book 5 stars. The story does hit home and made me aware of an episode of (ongoing) history of which I was (and still am in part) shamefully ignorant. Yet, while the strength of Abad's story and his clear emotional attachment to it got to me, I did not particularly like his actual writing style or telling of the story. There were many repetitions, up to the point where it started to annoy me. And though I get that including all the names of those involved in this tragic history was important for Abad, this resulted in some lenghty ennumerations that seemed to have no added value. For the writing itself then, I would have given 3 stars. That said however, when the moment is there - the moment that you know must come, as readers are made aware of it from the start -; when Hector Abad sr. is finally murdered for his work and opinions, it came as a blow and made me almost ashamed of not knowing more about the attrocities that happened in Colombia for so many years. All in all then, a highly recommended read, if only for remembering the bravery of Héctor Abad and the thousands of human rights defenders who were murdered for their shared battle.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelvin Zhou

    Very good book, describing of the author’s authentic love and relationship with his father. His father, in his eyes, was perfect and the author was quick to point out that it will be biased just as all well-loved sons will be of their fathers in their eyes. Written about a very troubled time in Columbia; there are many quotes in the book that made me pause and ponder. It’s possible that no one, not even parents, can make their children completely happy. What is certainly true is that they can make Very good book, describing of the author’s authentic love and relationship with his father. His father, in his eyes, was perfect and the author was quick to point out that it will be biased just as all well-loved sons will be of their fathers in their eyes. Written about a very troubled time in Columbia; there are many quotes in the book that made me pause and ponder. It’s possible that no one, not even parents, can make their children completely happy. What is certainly true is that they can make them very unhappy. When I’m mulling over something I’ve done or am going to do, I try to imagine what my father would’ve said, and have resolved many moral dilemmas simply by appealing to the memory of his attitude to life, his example and his words Even a clear summer sky would always have a black cloud, somewhere on the horizon Happiness is threatened by misfortune at every moment We know we’re going to die,simply by virtue of being alive. We know the what(that we will die), but not the when, or the how, of the where. And although the ending is certain, inevitable, when what always comes to pass happens to another, we like to find out the very moment, and recount the intricacies of the how, and know the details of the where and conjecture about the why. Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow has yet to arrive Today’s slipping away without stopping at all I am a was, and a will be, and a tired is…

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