Héctor Abad Faciolince - Saint or sinner? Moralist or scoundrel? Ascetic or voluptuary? This aging memoirist and protagonist, offers up for scrutiny the events of his checkered life and the substance of his diverse opinions
Héctor Abad Faciolince, Joy of Being Awake, Brookline Books/Lumen Editions, 1996.
Saint or sinner? Moralist or scoundrel? Ascetic or voluptuary? The reader must draw his or her own conclusions as Don Gregorio Benjamin Gaspar de Medina, aging memoirist and protagonist, offers up for scrutiny the events of his checkered life and the substance of his diverse opinions. His narrative begins at the age of 15 at his family's Colombian countryside villa, when he simultaneously discovers that he is wealthy and that kisses are not shared only with the lips. Six decades later in Vienna, the story culminates with his marriage to the delectable Cunegonde Bonaventura, his erstwhile secretary and transcriber of his memoirs.
Héctor Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir, Trans. by Anne McLean and Rosalind Harvey. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.
Colombian author Abad (The Joy of Being Awake) dedicates this loving and sentimental memoir to his father, Héctor Abad Gómez, a professor and doctor devoted to his family, "moved to tears…by poetry and music," and committed to a better Colombia. The latter aspiration cost him his life when he was assassinated in 1987, and his son began writing this book five years later. Abad spends much of the book expressing his love for his father, but it is his discussion of Gómez's public health and human rights projects—such as founding "the Colombian Institute of Family Wellbeing, which built aqueducts and sewer systems in villages, rural districts, and cities"—that reveals what a remarkable educator, reformer, and activist the senior Abad was, and how his assassination (most likely ordered by Colombia's political leadership at the time) was a tragedy for a family and a nation. Those unfamiliar with Abad's and Gómez's writings will nevertheless find this timely memoir moving and informative. - Publishers Weekly