In his powerful and uninhibited memoir, Adiós to My Parents, distinguished Mexican author and historian Héctor Aguilar Camín offers up a bold and intimate account of his family’s checkered history, including his father’s poor choices, disastrous business ventures in Yucatán and Guatemala, financial ruin at the hands of his “paternally arrogant” father, and the recklessness that poisoned his marriage and mired his life in scandal and lawsuits.
First published in 2014 in Mexico as Adiós a los padres, Aguilar Camín’s memoir has been translated into English for the first time by Chandler Thompson, a journalist who is also responsible for the English language translation of two of the author’s novels, Death in Veracruz and Day In, Day Out. Here, the emphasis of Aguilar Camín’s book is firmly on his ancestry and, in particular, his mother and father’s personal journey. Using a singular approach to chronicling his and their lives, Aguilar Camín jumps back and forth through the decades, offering a genealogical history, revisiting faded memories from youth, exposing ugly family secrets and painful truths, and sharing his parents’ candid stories. In order to fully piece together their lives, he also explores a freshly discovered private portfolio of old family documents containing photographs, receipts, letters, death certificates, wills, and a dossier of lawsuits that track his father’s doings through the years.
Nicholas Litchfield’s full review of Adiós to My Parents is available on the Colorado Review’s Center for Literary Publishing website.