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Héctor Abad was born in Medellín, Columbia, in 1958. He studied journalism at the University of Antioquía and languages and modern literature at the University of Turin. Abad has worked as a lecturer in Spanish at the University of Verona and as a translator, including works by Lampedusa and Eco. At present, he works as an editor for the magazine Cambio, published by Gabriel García Márquez.

"No one knows the recipe for happiness" – these are Héctor Abad's first words in his "Tratado de culinaria para mujeres tristes" (1999; Culinary Tract for Unhappy Women), a tract about sadness, love and life, a light-hearted yet melancholy book full of mysterious magical recipes, in which – offering inexhaustible advice - he tackles the innumerable forms of unhappiness faced by the women of this world: ageing, mothers-in-law, pregnancy or their husbands' affairs. He has a recipe at the ready for all situations in life, the basic ingredient of which is the insight that sadness and sensual pleasure, excess and asceticism, the bizarre and the simple belong together and that life can only reveal its true beauty in an indivisible combination of all these. The most important thing of all for Héctor Abad, therefore, is to accept sadness, to cultivate it and to live it, since it is a form of bliss that is as fleeting as lust and happiness: "I can only advise you, enjoy your suffering, suffer as much as you can until you sense that your body will no longer accommodate so much suffering. Do not be sparing with your tears, bathe as intensely in pain as you once did in lust. For there is one inevitable rule which, as you hear it now, will make you even sadder: with time you will begin to suffer less; you will want to suffer as you did before, but you will no longer succeed."

Food is not only a stimulant; it also comforts and helps us to make the very most of pain. Wisdom, understanding of people and culinary recommendations are inseparably linked to one another in Héctor Abad's work. He recommends a tea made from twenty-eight fresh leaves of lemon balm for "afternoons of constant drizzle, when your lover is far away and his absence weighs on your heart", a "solution of two pinches of salt in a litre of boiled water" to rinse the eyes so that they sparkle and shine, or "chicken à la cocotte" for the attractive guest who has kindled a secret fire in the imagination of a married woman. For "the day will come when your peaceful, pleasant married life will end up – for a short time – between two dashes. Someone will come along, to whom you will devote more attention and thought than your partner for a few days. There is no need to feel guilty; it is a passing surge of feeling, granted to you by fate as a festival of pleasure." In this way, Héctor Abad's guide is filled with a current of wisdom, a knowledge of all that is human – and is also a declaration of devoted love to life.

Publications in German Translation
Kulinarisches Traktat für traurige Frauen. Translated by Sabine Giersberg. Wagenbach, Berlin 2001
Publications in English Translation
The Joy of Being Awake. Lumen Editions 1996
Events by DAAD
"El olvido que seremos"

"Kulinarisches Traktat für traurige Frauen"

"Schreiben über die Realität und die Realität des Schreibens in Lateinamerika"

Konzert mit Ensemble L'Itinéraire, Mark Foster (Ltg)

La Oculta. Buchpremiere

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