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El médico Héctor Abad Gómez dedicó sus últimos años, hasta el mismo día en que cayó asesinado en pleno centro de Medellín, a la defensa de la igualdad social y los derechos humanos. El olvido que seremos es la reconstrucción amorosa y paciente de un personaje; está lleno de sonrisas y canta el placer de vivir, pero muestra también la tristeza y la rabia que provoca la muer El médico Héctor Abad Gómez dedicó sus últimos años, hasta el mismo día en que cayó asesinado en pleno centro de Medellín, a la defensa de la igualdad social y los derechos humanos. El olvido que seremos es la reconstrucción amorosa y paciente de un personaje; está lleno de sonrisas y canta el placer de vivir, pero muestra también la tristeza y la rabia que provoca la muerte de un ser excepcional. Conjurar la figura del padre es un reto que recorre consagradas páginas de la historia y de la literatura. ¿Quién no recuerda las obras de Kafka, Philip Roth, Martin Amis o V. S. Naipaul sobre su verdadero o cuestionado progenitor? Ahora será también difícil olvidar este libro desgarrador de Héctor Abad Faciolince escrito con valor y ternura.


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El médico Héctor Abad Gómez dedicó sus últimos años, hasta el mismo día en que cayó asesinado en pleno centro de Medellín, a la defensa de la igualdad social y los derechos humanos. El olvido que seremos es la reconstrucción amorosa y paciente de un personaje; está lleno de sonrisas y canta el placer de vivir, pero muestra también la tristeza y la rabia que provoca la muer El médico Héctor Abad Gómez dedicó sus últimos años, hasta el mismo día en que cayó asesinado en pleno centro de Medellín, a la defensa de la igualdad social y los derechos humanos. El olvido que seremos es la reconstrucción amorosa y paciente de un personaje; está lleno de sonrisas y canta el placer de vivir, pero muestra también la tristeza y la rabia que provoca la muerte de un ser excepcional. Conjurar la figura del padre es un reto que recorre consagradas páginas de la historia y de la literatura. ¿Quién no recuerda las obras de Kafka, Philip Roth, Martin Amis o V. S. Naipaul sobre su verdadero o cuestionado progenitor? Ahora será también difícil olvidar este libro desgarrador de Héctor Abad Faciolince escrito con valor y ternura.

30 review for El olvido que seremos

  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. 4 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 human who remains appreciated by t 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 human who remains appreciated by those close to him. And 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

    Yasmine Azeez

    a must-read kinda book <3

  6. 5 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erion Murati

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

  8. 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.

  9. 5 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.

  10. 4 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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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...

  14. 5 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 4 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andreea

    The legacy of a father.

  20. 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/...

  21. 4 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natali

    Hector Abad is one of the most prominent writers in Latin America after Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His generation came after the magical realism and their primary focus shifted from magic to the reality as it was. And those were tumultuous times. So far I could only find one of his books in English translation - Oblivion: A Memoir. It's a beautiful title and the book is as much beautiful. This memoir is about his father - a doctor, professor and human rights activist. A dangerous combination of thi Hector Abad is one of the most prominent writers in Latin America after Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His generation came after the magical realism and their primary focus shifted from magic to the reality as it was. And those were tumultuous times. So far I could only find one of his books in English translation - Oblivion: A Memoir. It's a beautiful title and the book is as much beautiful. This memoir is about his father - a doctor, professor and human rights activist. A dangerous combination of things to be in the Communist-elimination obsessed Colombia of the 70s-80es. The book is full of love: open and passionate love of the father to his children, love of the only son to his father, love that both of them had for their country and the people. It deeply touched me how Hector's father constantly told his kids that he would always love them just because they are - no expectations, no demands. They don't have to achieve anything, they don't have to become anyone - it's a complete freedom with a total support of their parents. The parents just set an example of a person their kids would want to be by taking an active position in the life of the country. Hector's father, even though he's in academia, takes his job to the new practical level and goes with his students to work "in the field". They are helping poor communities to build sewers, purify water and emphasize preventative measures over "curing" and "doctoring" consequences of bad living conditions. Eventually, the professor gets too exposed in the civil rights movement and classified as a communist. Thus - shot in the middle of the day, surrounded by the people. A very beautiful and real story about a family, their values and a memory that never fades.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Featherbooks

    I have finished Oblivion by Hector Obad and appreciated the writing, but the last quarter or more of the book went on and on as a tribute to his father who was assassinated by para-military right-wing thugs in Colombia in 1997. His dad was a professor of public health at the University of Antioquia in Medellin and was shot in the chest as he was going to a wake for a friend similarly killed. He sounded like a great man, with admirable aims, but one who spent his life Don Quixote-style ignoring w I have finished Oblivion by Hector Obad and appreciated the writing, but the last quarter or more of the book went on and on as a tribute to his father who was assassinated by para-military right-wing thugs in Colombia in 1997. His dad was a professor of public health at the University of Antioquia in Medellin and was shot in the chest as he was going to a wake for a friend similarly killed. He sounded like a great man, with admirable aims, but one who spent his life Don Quixote-style ignoring warnings and trouble around him as he pursued his laudable goals. The writer is not easy on the reader with very long sentences and few breaks. It took me a long time to finish it - I started it in Santa Fe de Antioquia and read on the plane home. I would like to see what the writer does with a subject not so close to his heart but there's no denying the beauty of his prose.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Boostamonte Halvorsen

    What a memoir! I haven't ever read a memoir quite like this. It was almost like a history lesson wrapped in culture and the story of Hector and his family is the bow on top of this. This book really gives a glimpse in to Colombia during the 1960's-1980's -- and as sad and horrible as it is, Hector really makes you see it, feel it, and want to visit. It is a book worth reading, and I think it should be introduced to high school students. I removed a star as there are times he tends to get really What a memoir! I haven't ever read a memoir quite like this. It was almost like a history lesson wrapped in culture and the story of Hector and his family is the bow on top of this. This book really gives a glimpse in to Colombia during the 1960's-1980's -- and as sad and horrible as it is, Hector really makes you see it, feel it, and want to visit. It is a book worth reading, and I think it should be introduced to high school students. I removed a star as there are times he tends to get really deep into names and over explaining. Super good, read it!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cami

    This book was eye opening to me. My mother grew up a few houses from the author and my aunt went to school with one of his sisters, she even remember the nun! It was delightful to read in a beautiful and immersive way about the world of her childhood particularly now that I don't have her with me. At the same time it broke my heart, because it also exposed the ugly face of that same society, that ignore the poor and demonized the social justice. It is a stunning portrait of the times that birthe This book was eye opening to me. My mother grew up a few houses from the author and my aunt went to school with one of his sisters, she even remember the nun! It was delightful to read in a beautiful and immersive way about the world of her childhood particularly now that I don't have her with me. At the same time it broke my heart, because it also exposed the ugly face of that same society, that ignore the poor and demonized the social justice. It is a stunning portrait of the times that birthed the reality I grew up in, in beautiful heartfelt and intimate writing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    June Lin

    This book is not only a beautiful, intimate memoir of a son’s relationship with his father but also a portrait of a man, like thousands of others, who were killed by the Colombian paramilitary troops for speaking out for what they believed in. In this case, better public health systems and human rights. Anyone who wants to understand a little history of Colombia as told through the lens of its people should read this. Heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bryce Calton

    Personal insight into another culture and time I like generally like memoirs. I had no connection to this story other than seeing this referenced on a movie or show I was watching and i always maintain an interest in learning about other cultures from a biographical perspective. I feel I understand the people of the Columbian culture a little better than before. Also, the fringe extremes of any society are frustrating to me and end up being deadly for many.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate Millin

    Moving biography of a much loved father The description of life in Columbia is at the same time beautiful for the loving family life created by an amazing couple described by their son, and frightening about the corruption and death squads that his father countered. He was a very brave man with a clear vision of what is right that he kept sharing and working towards despite major opposition. The strength and loving supporting the mother is as important in this story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Beautiful tribute to his father. It is a bravely written memoir with both personal and political vulnerability. But I couldn't help wonder throughout the book, what the story would have been through the eyes of his sisters. I would love to read the same memoir penned by any of the author's sisters to see how they viewed the same events. Beautiful tribute to his father. It is a bravely written memoir with both personal and political vulnerability. But I couldn't help wonder throughout the book, what the story would have been through the eyes of his sisters. I would love to read the same memoir penned by any of the author's sisters to see how they viewed the same events.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark Javier

    Abad comes off as whipsmart and well-read as he tells the devastatingly beautiful story of his father's love in the midst of Colombia's decades long armed conflict. Tragic, at times funny, and absolutely singular. THIS is the book that every Colombian I asked pointed to in order to understand their complicated country. Each one said they cried. I was no different. Abad comes off as whipsmart and well-read as he tells the devastatingly beautiful story of his father's love in the midst of Colombia's decades long armed conflict. Tragic, at times funny, and absolutely singular. THIS is the book that every Colombian I asked pointed to in order to understand their complicated country. Each one said they cried. I was no different.

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