A nostalgic and wild family saga
Pilar, Eva and Antonio are the heirs of La Oculta, their beloved family farm hidden in the Colombian mountains. This is the landscape of their happiest memories yet also where they have faced the most violence and terror—from guerillas, drug-dealers and paramilitaries. Their fears are escalating as they stand to lose the sacred land on which they have built their identities and dreams. In rich and captivating prose, Héctor Abad illuminates the vicissitudes of a family and of a people in the voices of these three very different siblings, recounting their loves, fears, desires and hopes.
Héctor Abad was born in Medellín, Colombia, in 1958, where he studied medicine, … Read more
Book Club Questions
- The book is written from the multiple perspectives of three siblings: Pilar, Antonio, and Eva. Which sibling did you most identify with, and why?
- How do you think this changing of perspective added to the story? What was the book able to do that might not have been possible through the viewpoint of a single narrator?
- Can you say a little about the relationships between the three siblings? What do you think Toño’s and Eva’s relationship is like, or Eva’s and Pilar’s, for example?
- In what ways do the three siblings differ in their attitudes toward the farm?
- How do you think Eva, in particular, feels about the farm after everything that happened to her there?
- Do the differences in opinions cause conflicts between the siblings, or are they able to resolve all their issues?
- How does the landscape play a role in the story? What do you think life in such a remote area of Colombia would be like?
- Do you think life in the cities in Colombia would be very different to life in the countryside? In what ways? Why not?
- What do you think was the biggest threat to the farm? Was it worth fighting for? Why, why not? What do you think you would have done in a similar situation?
- How does the environment described by Abad compare to your own surroundings? Are there any threats in your own city/town/local area? If so, what are they, and how could they be solved?
- How does Toño’s partner feel about the farm? How does he view Toño’s attachment to it?
- How important is the history of a family or a land? Should one strive to know the details of one’s ancestors, or should one simply move on and look to the future?
- How much do you know about your own family history and the history of the land on which you live? Is it something you would like to know more about? Why, why not?
‘Best translated novel of 2018’ —Financial Times
‘Despite ever-present terror this is a ruminative, delicate tale, vivid with Colombia’s natural beauty as well as its bloodshed’ —Daily Mail
‘Abad’s finely crafted novel not only expounds its narrators’ contrasting attitudes towards sex, rural life and tradition in a modernising country, but also tells in fictional form the true story of an attempt to create a rural middle class in Colombia’ —The Economist
‘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’ —MANUEL RIVAS
‘A pensive novel of a rural family torn by conflict and incomprehension. A graceful story that takes its time to unfold, with much roiling under the surface of the narrative’ —Kirkus Reviews
‘Abad’s arresting novel is a brilliant lesson in Colombian history’ —Publishers Weekly
‘The Farm is a sweeping, satisfying tale about the interplay of family life and national history. With perceptive novels like this one, Abad is carving out an enviable niche in Colombia’s celebrated literary tradition’ —KEVIN CANFIELD, World Literature Today
Why You Should Read This Book
‘La Oculta lake obsessed me ever since I was a boy. Years later, when I began to swim in that lake, I found a drowned person under the water. Touching the hair and body of that person was so terrible for me that it entered my brain deeply, and from that event came the beginnings of this novel.’
HÉCTOR ABAD, the author
‘Héctor Abad tells the stories and the history of one Colombian family in this novel and reveals much beauty and heartache. The sensitivity and depth of emotion he brings to life with deceptive simplicity in the voices of the three connected and contradictory Ángel siblings was a particularly rewarding challenge to recreate in English.’
ANNE MCLEAN, the translator
‘Héctor Abad draws you into his story with magnetic force and hypnotizes you with the heartbeat of his beautiful country, haunted by violence. His writing has a very special tenderness about it that makes you love his characters as if they were your own family members.’
JUDITH UYTERLINDE, the publisher