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| 10/29/2010 12:00:00 AM

Oblivion: A memoir by Hector Abad Faciolince – review

October 29--Hector Abad's tribute to his father, 'the communist doctor' murdered by Colombian paramilitaries in 1987, is warm, witty and moving

In 1987 the Colombian novelist Hector Abad was phoned by a journalist with some startling news: "They're saying you've just been killed." He knew instantly that the rumours must refer to his father, whose name he shared and whose body was lying at that very moment in a pool of blood a few blocks away. Doctor, teacher and public health activist, Hector Abad senior was 65 years old when rightwing paramilitaries caught up with him on a Medellín street. The doctor had been on his way to pay his respects to a colleague murdered two days earlier, and was accompanied by an ex-student whom the killers finished off minutes later. Three speakers who paid tribute to the murdered doctor were themselves later killed. The son went into exile and survived.
 
"For almost 20 years I have tried to be him there, facing death, at that moment," Abad writes in a memoir that is partly a portrait of a singular father and partly a wider landscape of a beautiful country, full of potential, tearing itself to pieces. The title is from a line of poetry by Borges: "Already we are the oblivion we shall be" – words scribbled down by Abad's father on the morning of his murder. In writing the book, Abad explains, he hoped this oblivion might be "deferred", if only for a moment.
 
Read more here.

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