The Return

By Hisham Matar

Around the World: Libya


 

In this moving memoir, Hisham Matar describes his journey to try to find out what happened to his father, a political activist who is presumed dead. We see the roots of injustice taking hold of his home country of Libya during his childhood. We see his teenage and adults years in deceivingly calm and ordered places like the English boarding school, and the fear, longing, and danger that lurks under the surface for a young man who has to lie under an alias to remain safe there. The questioning and searching- the endless petitions and letters that are never truthfully answered. What happened to my father. The journey back home. The hundred of not quite familiar faces- who all remember his father. The person who thinks they saw him, but was mistaken. The questions that are never answered.

Hisham takes us not only on a physical journey to the many places he has lived, and back in time to his fathers life, but also into his own psyche- how do trauma and loss and unanswered questions affect a child, a family or a man once he has grown up.

I found this book to be well written, with some lovely, almost poetic passages. It also outlined some of the politics. I found I quite interesting, but did find I had to break it up into quite a few goes- although whether that is due to the book or my general fatigue and business I am note sure.

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