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Oblivion: A Memoir

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  7,473 ratings  ·  907 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  7,473 ratings  ·  907 reviews

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Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Yasmine Azeez
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a must-read kinda book <3 ...more
Elizabeth Grech
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Erion Murati
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
...the oblivion that awaits can be deferred a moment more!
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-changing
The legacy of a father.

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
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, colombia
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 ...more
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 ...more
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
June Lin
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bryce Calton
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kate Millin
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark Javier
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in anticipation of a trip to Columbia. It is heartening to know that things are changing. This memoire is very sweet and sad. Hector Abad (Sr.) was a brave man who bravely went ahead. I look forward to a peaceful fearless trip to Bogata later this month.
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Born in Medellín, 1958. 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.

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