Oblivion: A Memoir

Oblivion: A Memoir



The Pequod Review:

Hector Abad's Oblivion is a passionate and emotional memoir of the 1982 assassination of Abad’s father — a left-wing university professor in Medellin with a lot of political enemies — and its impact on Abad’s own life. It is an honest account, open about his father’s virtues and flaws, and one that doubles as a history-from-below account of the political climate in 1970s and 1980s Colombia. There is also great beauty in some of Abad’s memories of his father’s kindness and generosity. He includes this letter written by his father when Abad was studying literature in Italy and went through a period of depression and doubt:

My darling son: depression at your age is more common than you might think… And to tell you the truth, the idea that you might soon unpack your bags here, having chucked in all your European plans, makes your mother and me as happy as could be. You have more than earned the equivalent of any university “degree” and you’ve used your time so well to educate yourself culturally and personally that if university bores you it’s only natural. Whatever you do from here on in, whether you write or don’t write, whether you get a degree or not, whether you work in your mother’s business, or at El Mundo, or at La Inés, or teaching at a high school, or giving lectures like Estanislao Zuleta, or as a psychoanalyst to your parents, sisters and relatives, or simply being Héctor Abad Faciolince, will be fine…

You’re doing just fine and you’ll do better. Every year will be better, and when you get to my age or your grandfather’s age and you can enjoy the scenery around La Inés that I intend to leave to all of you, with the sunshine, heat and lush greenery, you’ll see I was right. Don’t stay there longer than you feel you can. If you want to come back I’ll welcome you with open arms. And if you regret it and want to go back again, we can buy you another return flight. As long as you never forget that the most important thing is that you return. A kiss from your father.