Héctor Abad Faciolince
© Daniela Abad
Héctor Abad Faciolince was born in Medellín, Colombia, in 1958, where he studied medicine, philosophy and journalism. After being expelled from university for writing a defamatory text against the Pope, he moved to Italy. In 1987, shortly after returning to his homeland, his father was murdered. In 2008, Abad was a guest of the DAAD's Artist-in-Residence Programme in Berlin. He now lives again in Colombia. El olvido que seremos sold over 250,000 copies in Spanish. His latest novel La Oculta has been number 1 among the bestselling novels in Colombia since November 2014 and has already sold 70,000 copies.
In his new novel La Oculta (“The Farm”), Héctor Abad presents us with the moving story of a closely-knit Colombian family.
When the Ángel family’s beloved home in the Antioquian wilderness falls into danger, they manage to defend it against the guerrillas and, later, the paramilitaries – but at a high price. When their parents die, Pilar, Eva and Toño have to decide the fate of their father’s legacy. While Pilar and Toño want to keep La Oculta, Eva, who experienced something terrible at the old farm house, is determined to sell. As the siblings each struggle with their own problems, their inner conflicts threaten to tear apart not only their home but also their family.
Written from alternating points of view in precise and atmospheric language, the Ángel family will win the reader’s heart immediately. Like his bestselling novel El olvido que seremos, La Oculta is part autobiographic, part fiction. It was number 1 among the bestselling novels in Colombia in 2014.
In Latin America, a new post-ideological realism is spreading. Héctor Abad's novel La Oculta is today's world literary response to Gabriel García Márquez' "One Hundred Years of Solitude".
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Abad depicts in La Oculta much more than a story about settlers: sad and sensitive, it is an elegy to the fragile paradises that we must all leave behind.
La Oculta will leave no one indifferent. I read it in two days and just couldn’t put it down.
Florence Thomas, El Tiempo
A book in the finest Colombian storytelling tradition.
A novel that moves the reader and draws him in.
A book that can be read as a metaphor for his country.
No one knows the recipe for happiness – and still Héctor Abad has given us a whole book of them. In Tratado de culinaria para mujeres tristes ("A Culinary Manual for Sad Women"), he shows us how to prevail against almost any misfortune, be it old age or melancholy, and enchants the reader with anecdotes that seem to come straight out of a witch's cauldron.
The laconic wisdom of life that shines through Abad’s capricious recommendations is ambrosia for the soul, even for men.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Instructions for happiness – this author knows the female psyche well.
A mixture of memoir and novel, El olvido que seremos ("Oblivion") is an attempt to save a destiny from the oblivion of forgetting – whilst at the same time providing an involving portrait of an epoch, and of a young man on the way to adulthood. The clear and poetic language makes reading this book into a true literary experience. “Oblivion” has sold over 180,000 copies in Spanish and was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the USA.
As an account of the love between a son and his father it is most moving. But it is also a clear-sighted exploration of the terrible sickness that afflicted Colombia in the 1980s, some pages so painful that one flinches from reading them. In all, it is a tragic and unforgettable history.
My most enthralling reading experience of recent years.
Mario Vargas Llosa
Not only is it a beautiful and profoundly moving work, not only is it a necessary lesson on current themes such as civic education and the relation between personal and historical memory, but also an irreplaceable testimony of the struggle for democracy and tolerance in countries that are so near and dear to us.
Fernando Savater, El País
A tremendous and necessary book, with an overwhelming courage and honesty. At times I wondered how he had the bravery to write it.
A beautiful, authentic and moving book.
I store up what I have read by Héctor Abad like spherical, polished, luminous little balls of bread, ready for when I have to walk through a vast forest in the nighttime.
The city of Angosta is divided into three parts, according to social standing. When the aspiring poet Andrés starts working for an organization that aims to expose the crimes of the upper class and the drug lords, he himself soon becomes a victim. Left behind are Jacobo Lince, the charismatic owner of an eccentric bookshop, and Candela, Andrés’s girlfriend. Together, they take up where he left off. Written in poetic language, the futuristic Angosta is a mirror of the violent reality of many parts of Latin America, and both a beautiful and terrifying modern fable.
“Truth and memory are always tinged with oblivion, or distortions of memory that are not recognized as such.” In this book, Héctor Abad discusses the difficulty of recomposing the past, summed up – as the title of the book indicates – as Traiciones de la memoria (“Betrayals of Memory”). The trigger for this journey into the past is a poem found in the bag of the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, on the day of his assassination in Medellín, August 1987. The author wrote in his diary at that moment: “We found him in a pool of blood. I kissed him and he was still warm. But so still, so still. The rage almost choked my tears. The sadness wouldn’t allow me to feel the full extent of the rage. My mum took off his wedding ring. I looked in his bag and found a poem”. The poem, attributed by some to Jorge Luis Borges, becomes the protagonist of the book. In 2006, when Abad published El olvido que seremos, some literary critics reproached him for having claimed Borges as the poem’s author in order to sell more books. In confronting this controversy, Abad began to investigate the origins of the poem. The task was not to be an easy one, owing to the fact that certain Borges specialists insisted the poem was not by the great Argentine writer. Through interviews and meetings with writers and journalists, the author ends up winning the battle over oblivion and betrayals of memory. In addition, the book contains two short chapters in which the author speaks of his experience as an emigrant in Turín, Italy, during his years in exile after his father’s assassination. He also reflects on the complex theme of the self and the other in literature.
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La Oculta, Bogotá: Alfaguara 2014, 340 p.; Madrid: Alfaguara 2015
Number 1 among the beststelling novels in Colombia for 6 months and the 5th bestselling novel in 2015
Nominated for the Mario Vargos Llosa Prize 2016
Cálamo Prize 2015 – book of the Year in Spain
Brazil: Companhia das Letras ● Denmark: Aurora Boreal ● France: Gallimard 2016 ● Germany: Berenberg 2016, btb pb forthcoming April 2018 ● Greece: Patakis ● Netherlands: De Geus 2016 ● Portugal: Quetzal 2016 ● UK: World Editions ● US: Archipelago 2018
Over 250,000 copies sold in Spanish language
Film rights sold to Dos Monkeys
Brazil: Companhia das Letras 2015 ● France: Editions JC Lattès 2010
Film rights sold to One Film Corp.
Brazil: Companhia das Letras 2012 ● France: Editions JC Lattès 2010 ● Germany: Wagenbach 2001, 2017 ● Greece: Enalios 2000 ● Italy: Sellerio 1997, 2010 ● Portugal: Presença 2001, Quetzal 2010 ● UK: Pushkin Press 2012
Asuntos de un hidalgo disoluto, Bogotá: Ed. Tercer Mundo 1984; Alfaguara 1999, 220 p.
UK: Brookline Books 1996
Chronicles and short stories:
Spain: Pre-Textos 2015