The Return

The Return

Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between

Book - 2016 | First U.S. edition.
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In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years. His father, a former diplomat and military man turned 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: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9780812994827
Characteristics: 243 pages : map ; 22 cm
Summary: In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years. His father, a former diplomat and military man turned 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.

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e
empbee
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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Eeroomnhoj
Jan 05, 2019

Obama's List

j
jmreid1220
Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2018

b
becker
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.

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EmilyEm
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.

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gale37
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.

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vpazreads
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.

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uncommonreader
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.

j
jangelucci
Dec 28, 2016

Beautifully written and very compelling, this book reads more like fiction. In my reading, I often make a note of a great turn of phrase or clever use of words that makes a point so well that there's no way it could be misconstrued. It normally happens once or twice to me in a book, but in this book I stopped counting after it got into double digits. After everyone I'd say to myself jealously, "I wish I had I written that sentence!"
This family's strength and dignity in the face of unimaginable circumstances affected me profoundly.

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