Born in New York City to Libyan parents, Hisham Matar spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo and has lived most of his adult life in London. His debut novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won numerous international prizes, including the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, a Commonwealth First Book Award, the Premio Flaiano, and the Premio Gregor von Rezzori. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, published in 2011, was named one of the best books of the year by The Guardian and the Chicago Tribune. His work has been translated into twenty-nine languages. He lives in London and New York.
[Hisham Matar] writes with both a novelist s eye for physical and emotional detail, and a reporter s tactile sense of place and time. The prose is precise, economical, chiseled; the narrative elliptical, almost musical. . . . <i>The Return</i> is, at once, a suspenseful detective story about a writer investigating his father s fate at the hands of a brutal dictatorship, and a son s efforts to come to terms with his father s ghost, who has haunted more than half his life by his absence. <b> Michiko Kakutani, <i>The New York Times</i></b> It seems unfair to call Hisham Matar s extraordinary new book a memoir, since it is so many other things besides: a reflection on exile and the consolations of art, an analysis of authoritarianism, a family history, a portrait of a country in the throes of a revolution, and an impassioned work of mourning. . . . For all its terrible human drama . . . the most impressive thing about <i>The Return</i> is that<b> </b>it also tells a common story, the story of sons everywhere who have lost their fathers, as all sons eventually must. <b> Robyn Creswell, <i>The New York Times Book Review</i></b> [<i>The Return</i>] roves back and forth in time with a freedom that conceals the intricate precision of its art. One of the greatest achievements of this outstanding book is a narrative design that keeps us hungry for new information even when we suspect exactly what has happened. . . . Mr. Matar is not a wonderful writer because his father disappeared or because his homeland is a mess: He is a brilliant narrative architect and prose stylist, his pared-down approach and measured pace a striking complement to the emotional tumult of his material. <b> <i>The Wall Street Journal</i></b> One comes away from this beautiful book feeling a sense of loss for the Libya that Matar and his father, brother, mother, uncles and cousins all fought for or dreamed of. . . . The effect of the family s attachments is less sentimental than defiant. And although the author does not want to give Libya anything more, he has, in this profound work of witnessing and grief, given it something indeed: a testimony that, even if shaped by the brutal state, has not ultimately been erased by it. <i>The Return, </i> for all the questions it cannot answer, leaves a deep emotional imprint. <b> <i>Newsday</i></b> A moving, unflinching memoir of a family torn apart by the savage realities of today s Middle East. The crushing of hopes raised by the Arab spring at both the personal and national levels is conveyed all the more powerfully because Matar s anger remains controlled, his belief in humanity undimmed. <b> Kazuo Ishiguro, The Best Summer Books, <i>The Guardian</i></b> Few trips could be as emotionally freighted as the one taken by Libyan-raised novelist Hisham Matar in his thriller-like memoir, <i>The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between</i>, about the post-Qaddafi search for his dissident father and his own deeply ambivalent sense of homecoming. <b> <i>Vogue</i></b> He writes eloquent and precise prose, and his deep inquiry into his father s imprisonment and absence, and the conflicting details about his death, blend with consideration of Libya s politics and history, to create a deeply resonant memoir. <b> <i>National Book Review</i></b> A masterful memoir, a searing meditation on loss, exile, grief, guilt, belonging, and above all, family. It is, as well, a study of the shaping and breaking of the bonds between fathers and sons. . . . This is writing of the highest quality. <b> <i>Sunday Times </i>(London)</b> At times almost unbearably moving . . . Hisham Matar is an observer and listener of enormous subtlety and sensitivity, and he writes English prose as cleanly and clearly as it can be written. This is a story of terrible deeds, but also a tale of mighty love, loyalty and courage. It simply must be read. <b> <i>The Spectator</i></b> A truly remarkable book. From the raw materials of his anger, his suffering, and his guilt, Matar has built a testament to his father, his family and his country. . . . It is a book with a profound faith in the consolations of storytelling. . . . <i>The Return </i>is an act of defiant remembering <b> <i>Daily Telegraph</i> (UK)</b> [A] magnificent book . . . Deeply affecting. <b> <i>The Times </i>(UK)</b> Out of his protracted torment Matar has forged a memoir that in its nuance and nobility bears unforgettable witness to love, to courage and to humanity. <i>The Return</i> is also a subtle and nimble work of art. It shifts elegantly between past and present, between dialogue and soliloquy, between urgent, even suspenseful action, and probing meditations on exile, grief and loss. <b> <i>Financial Times</i> (UK)</b> Mr. Matar s questions, however, go well beyond politics. This beautifully written memoir deals with the nature of family, the emotions of exile and the ties that link the present with the past in particular the son with his father, Jaballa Matar. <b> <i>The Economist</i></b> [Matar] reveals a suspense novelist s seasoned instincts . . . A beautifully written, harrowing story of a son s search for his father and how the impact of inexplicable loss can be unrelenting while the strength of family and cultural ties can ultimately sustain. <b><i> Kirkus </i>(Starred Review)</b> A magnificent memoir of exile and loss. Hisham Matar writes Libya s contemporary history with a Proustian sensibility and the intellect of Al-Jahiz. A timeless read. <b> Rawi Hage</b> <i>The Return </i>is a personal memoir, concerned with the kidnap and disappearance of the writer s father at the hands of the Qaddafi regime. It is wise and agonizing and thrilling to read. <b> Zadie Smith</b> What a brilliant book. Hisham Matar has the quality all historians of the world and the self most need: He knows how to stand back and let the past speak. In chronicling his quest for his father, his manner is fastidious, even detached, but his anger is raw and unreconciled; through his narrative art he bodies out the shape of loss and gives a universality to his very particular experience of desolation. <i>The Return</i> reads as easily as a thriller, but is a story that will stick: A person is lost, but gravity and resonance remain. <b> Hilary Mantel</b> <i>The Return</i> is a riveting book about love and hope, but it is also a moving meditation on grief and loss. It draws a memorable portrait of a family in exile and manages also to explore the politics of Libya with subtlety and steely intelligence. It is a quest for the truth in a dark time, constructed with a novelist's skill, written in tones that are both precise and passionate. It is likely to become a classic. <b> Colm Toibin</b> A triumph of art over tyranny, structurally thrilling, intensely moving, <i>The Return</i> is a treasure for the ages. <b> Peter Carey</b> <i>The Return</i> is tremendously powerful. Although it filled me with rage again and again, I never lost sight of Matar s beautiful intelligence as he tried to get to the heart of the mystery. I am so very grateful he has written this book. <b> Nadeem Aslam</b>