The Return

The Return

Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between

Book - 2016
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2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years. When he was twelve, Matar and his family went into political exile. Eight years later Matar's father, a former diplomat and military man turned brave political dissident, was kidnapped from the streets of Cairo by the Libyan government and is believed to have been held in the regime's most notorious prison. Now, the prisons are empty and little hope remains that Jaballah Matar will be found alive. Yet, as the author writes, hope is "persistent and cunning." This book is a profoundly moving family memoir, a brilliant and affecting portrait of a country and a people on the cusp of immense change, and a disturbing and timeless depiction of the monstrous nature of absolute power.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2016
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780812994827
Characteristics: 243 p. : map ; 22 cm


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Jul 16, 2020

Moving and indignant book about the author, a Libyan born in New York, whose father was imprisoned by the Gaddafi regime and disappeared. I knew very little about the history and politics of Libya, so had to catch up at points, but it's a strong book about a very difficult subject and the horrible arbitrary cruelty of power. I'll read more books by him.

Jul 06, 2019

A memoir of looking for the disappeared father after more than twenty years. Interesting and compassionate book that includes a brief history of Libya, the Italian occupation, the British diplomatic falsehood among others. The horrors of North African gulag and political prison situation in the late twentieth century is shocking. The book is written without self pity, but strong in comradery.

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Sep 18, 2018

I have always been interested in the idea of Revolution. About how far people have to be pushed before they are willing to risk their lives in order to take control back from an oppressive leader. This book deals with the horrors of the Qaddafi years in Libya and I was very moved by what these people lived through while also learning a lot from this book.

Sep 13, 2018

Memoir of the author’s family and the consequences of being in opposition to Libya’s Qaddafi regime. I knew little of Libya’s history prior to the Qaddafi years. Matar’s memoir is beautifully told.

Dec 15, 2017

This is a testament to the perseverance of a son to find the truth about his father's disappearance while coming to accept his death as inevitable. The lies and manipulation of the heir to and hangers-on of a corrupt, cruel regime are related in detail. It is Written in a unique, controlled style. I highly recommend this work of Matar.

SquamishLibraryStaff Dec 01, 2017

In this poignant and deeply moving memoir, Hisham Matar proves that he is a talented writer as he explores how political events and a power hungry regime can hold its people hostage to the cruelties and whims of the regime.

In 'The return', Hisham Matar describes his journey in trying to find out what happened to his father, Jaballa Matar, who was imprisoned by the Qaddafi regime in 1990. Hisham Matar recounts the recent history of Libya along with the history of his own family in relation to Libya.

Oct 16, 2017

Though the book helped me understand more about the politics, culture and history of Libya, the writing style seemed to lack focus at times. The author's grief and longing are palpable, but at times the emotion was overshadowed by a structure that seemed to be more stream-of-consciousness than planned.

Jul 07, 2017

This is the third book by Matar about the disappearance of his father, a wealthy businessman and member of the Libyan elite who opposed Qaddafi and who was kidnapped, was imprisoned and disappeared. This book is a memoir about Matar's return to Libya after the downfall of Qaddafi to discover when and how his father died. Matar seems somewhat naïve politically and provides no broader context. The book seemed padded in places (irrelevant descriptions). The grief of privilege.

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