“My memory is my fantasy”

One of Colombia’s most beloved authors, Héctor Abad Faciolince, traveled through almost four decades of vital experience with the publication of his diaries, Lo que fue presente: Diarios 1968-2006. The scope of this part of his life reveals a “secret sadness” –as Héctor put it– a sadness that became explicit with the pain that shook him after the murder of his father in 1987. This tragic event was the point of juncture which eventually became the backbone of his most important novel, El olvido que seremos, published in 2006.

Abad Faciolince spoke to Spanish journalist Guillermo Altares in the iconic Adolfo Mejía Theater about the ideas that were stitched together from fragments taken out of 30 to 40 diaries from all those years, and notes from about 100 notebooks.

He told stories about his first encounters with Gabriel García Márquez in Cuba; his friendship with Fernando Vallejo which deteriorated after poorly reviewing one of Vallejo’s books; his time in a cheap and rundown room in Madrid owned by Antonio Caballero; his envy of the relationship William Ospina had with Gabo that has reemerged as admiration.

The author moved between Colombia, Italy and Spain, the three countries that nurtured and shaped him especially during the years he recorded in his diaries. He reflected upon the craftsmanship of writing, a profession in which “failure is the most probable perspective.” He delves into his relationship with memory, the notion of truth, infidelity, what is not said.

Héctor Abad Faciolince became a spectator of himself as well as a spectator of the world by revisiting his old writings. As a witness of the mysteries and rarities of life, Abad Faciolince has never made space for fantasy in his work: “My memory is my fantasy,” he says. Reality has all the wonder he needs.