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Oblivion: A Memoir Paperback – November 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Oblivion, the most eloquent homage a son could possibly pay to a father, is an expression of filial love so strong that the man seems almost physically present. Abad's father emerges as the ideal parent...
Michael Jacobs, The Independent

Oblivion is the moving story of a family, touched but not destroyed by violence. I wish we had more of Abad in English. Fatima Bhutto, Granta

About the Author

Héctor Abad is one of Colombia's leading writers. Born in 1958, he grew up in Medellín, where he studied medicine, philosophy, and journalism. After being expelled from university for writing a defamatory text against the Pope, he moved to Italy before returning to his homeland in 1987. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Old Street Publishing (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906964785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906964788
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,980,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Héctor Abad Faciolince (born 1958) is a Colombian novelist, essayist, journalist, and editor. Abad is considered one of the most talented "post-boom" writers in Latin American literature. Abad is best known for his bestselling novels Angosta, and more recently, El Olvido que Seremos (t. Oblivion: A Memoir).

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
I liked this book so much I bought it for my own adult children.
Betsy
It is an attempt to postpone his father's oblivion just a little, the only real "revenge" that a son can have by telling the story of what happened.
Kieran Tapsell
I also love the quotes used in the book from different authors and poets.
Cati

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kieran Tapsell on November 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mario Vargas Llosa wrote on the cover jacket of this book, "It is very difficult to summarize Oblivion without betraying it, because, like all great works, it is many things at once". Having been thus warned let me try to avoid betraying it. It is essentially a biography of the author's father, Héctor Abad Gómez, a Professor of Public Health at the University of Antioquia who was assassinated by right wing paramilitaries in August 1987 at a time when as head of a Human Rights organization, he was condemning the violence on both sides. But, of course, being a biography of the author's father inevitably means it is an autobiography of the author growing up in a house with a very Catholic mother and an agnostic father who tried to vaccinate his son with readings from the Enlightenment after his days spent in a Catholic college. It seems that the vaccination worked.

I picked up this book at the airport bookshop in Bogotá about three years ago for something to read for the long journey back to Australia when it first came out in Spanish. I was enthralled, and couldn't put it down. It had the suspense of García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold because you know right from the start that the author's father will be assassinated and you have to wait until towards the end to find out how. His father had become a thorn in the side of the right wing Colombian establishment because of his demands for simple things like clean water for the poor, because, as Professor of Public Health he said it was useless dishing out pills to people when clean drinking water would cure the problem. For the haves, this was akin to dangerous socialism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Betsy on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading a review of it in The Nation Magazine and was not disappointed. Intrigued from page one, I couldn't put the book down, an unusual reaction to a story about someone else's family. This is no hazy set of photographs taken by a 6-year old with his or her first camera. None of the important parts are cut from the scenes; we can observe whole people and situations as if we were in the picture ourselves. Oblivion is compelling in many ways: it tells about the joys and tragedies of one family in a very relatable way; it introduces readers to a nation and a religion with all the warts and oozy sin pouring out; it reveals Columbia's chaos and the crises of a nation that creates hardship and genuine fears for those it purports to govern; it leads to an understanding of parental love and what that love can and cannot do for children. This makes Oblivion not only inspirational, but also, a history and basic psychology lesson. That's a lot for any author to do without intellectual pretensions or maudlin descriptions or self laudatory revelation. Mr. Abed can write.

I liked this book so much I bought it for my own adult children. I want them to see that we're not the only family that travels together with bumps along the way, that good and bad blending into grey is a common occurrence, that none of us escape the pain that comes with loving others as well as the joy we can choose to develop regardless of that pain. I hope Mr. Abed will continue writing and that we Americans will be recipients of his words. We need to hear what it's like to live in places without democratic protections and so-called entitlements. We have no idea what it's like to live without any safety net. Before we vote this November on the future of our nation, we need more books like this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Concha Alborg on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The important fact about this book is not what happens, which the reader knows from the beginning, but the style in which it's told. It is like a crescendo; from the naïve memories of the author's childhood, to the sophisticated analysis of Colombian politics, until his father's assassination in 1987. It took Héctor Abad twenty years to write this book and it was worth the wait. No wonder that Abad says to prefer reality to fiction since its publication.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This memoir is the fascinating, beautifully written coming of age story of Hector Abad, the son of Hector Abad Gomez. Gomez was no ordinary man; he was a towering presence in his son’s life and throughout Colombia. He was a professor, a doctor, and an international health care advocate who worked tirelessly to help Colombia’s poor. An enlightened man living in a not so enlightened time, he fought old world thinking while dodging Colombia’s deadly warring political factions. Ultimately, he paid for his passions with his life.

This book provided me a glimpse into Colombia, the real Colombia, which unfortunately has had a tendency to be reduced by the western media as a land of violent drug cartels and coffee beans. But there is a complicated and beautiful history contained in this book that was a pleasure (and a horror) to discover.

I thoroughly enjoyed this immensely personal, bittersweet tale of a father’s unconditional devotion to his son and would highly recommend it. It is often dark, and more often painful, but well worth the read.
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