The Blessing Next to the Wound

The Blessing Next to the Wound Cover

The Blessing Next to the Wound

A Story of Art, Activism, and Transformation

By Hector Aristizabal; Diane Lefer

Lantern Books, Paperback, 9781590561713, 268pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2010

Hector Aristizabal grew up in the barrios of Medellin, Colombia, where he and his siblings had to use all their wit, wiles, and wherewithal to survive poverty, the ever-present allure of cheap drugs and very dangerous money, and the endemic violence from leftwing guerrillas, rightwing death squads, cocaine cartels, and the armed power of the State. As a young actor and psychology student, Hector was seized by the military, held in secret, and tortured. He survived and went on to find meaning in his ordeal as he channeled his desire for revenge into nonviolent activism both in his homeland and during decades of exile in the United States.
While challenging the State-sponsored causes of much suffering in the world, Hector reached out to some of society's most marginalized at-risk and incarcerated youth, immigrants, and many others using his theatrical skills and psychotherapeutic training to help people shape their own stories and identities. He sought to understand his own identity as well as that of one brother who was a revolutionary and another who was gay and how his belief in personal integrity and political freedom might square with the realities of a country under the yoke of toxic ideologies. Hector was forced finally to examine his own motivations and commitments, and begin to heal his own gaping wounds.
Shockingly honest, heartbreaking, and vibrantly told, The Blessing Next to the Wound is a passionate and evocative memoir that, amid enormous suffering and loss, is a full-throated affirmation of life.

About the Author

Diane Lefer is an award-winning fiction author, playwright, and occasional rabble-rouser. She has studied primate behavior for the Research Department of the Los Angeles Zoo for almost twenty years and brings attention and affection to the rescue cats at the Amanda Foundation. Her ongoing collaboration with Colombian exile Hector Aristizabal includes Theater of the Oppressed workshops in the US and abroad, their nonfiction book, The Blessing Next to the Wound: A story of art, activism, and transformation, and their play Nightwind which has toured the US and more than 30 other countries as part of the worldwide movement to end the practice of torture.