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Summary

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, 2017

Hisham Matar was 19 when his father was kidnapped and taken to prison in Libya. He would never see him again. Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Gaddafi, Hisham was finally able to return to his homeland for the first time.

In this heartbreaking, illuminating memoir, he describes his return to a country and a family he thought he would never see again. The Return is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale of loss. It is an exquisite meditation on history, politics and art. It's the story of what it is to be human.

©2016 Hisham Matar (P)2016 Penguin Books Ltd

What listeners say about The Return

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Search for justice and closure - a Libyan story

Beautifully written, moving, tenacious story of a son's search for what happened to his father in Libya's political prisons. A story of his search for the truth and closure, and the betrayals he learned about along the way.

Beautifully read - the pronunciation of Leeebiya (Libya) will stay with me forever.

So too will the story of the return by the author's mother, week after week, to the political prison to bring lovingly prepared food for her incarcerated husband,... And what became of the bodies and bones of those who were killed by the Gaddafi regime ...

Autobiographical, deeply human story...

4 people found this helpful

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Deeply moving, the horrors of separation

A well deserved Pulitzer Prize for Hisham Matar, who speaks bravely about the terrible experiences his family faced under the Gaddafi regime and not knowing the fate of his diplomat father. It is gripping and terrifying to hear how easy it was for the authorities to arrest and kill Libyans at will even on foreign soil and the complicity of western countries that allowed it to happen. Truly a harrowing and stirring listen.

2 people found this helpful

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brilliant, beautiful and intimate

having Hisham himself as the reader, really transforms this story into a personal conversation.

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superb

It's impossible to find the words to praise this book, and its presentation by the author himself. The subject is tragic, the reading measured and sombre and the story is completely gripping. it should be read by anyone who cares about the fate of those trapped in vicious and violent regimes but who try always to speak truth to power.

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Remarkable

This is truly the best read book of a truthful story I have ever heard. Hisham’s prose is so moving and genuine, he takes you on his life’s journey with poetic yet soulful honesty of loss….. thank you Hisham.

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Painfully poignant and haunting.

Listening to the audiobook narrated by the author himself made the whole experience all the more intimate and gripping.

This is the story of one man’s search for his father, who was disappeared and imprisoned during Qaddafi’s brutal rule, in Libya. It’s a book about men, where the women feature in the background but do the heavy emotional weightlifting. The disappeared were the children of these women, their fathers, brothers, and husbands, yet their grief translates through that of their children and other menfolk.

There’s a tinge of sadness in Matar’s voice. Throughout the book, one can’t help but experience the pain and yearning as he flashbacks in his narration to various episodes of togetherness, absence, separation, and hope.

The book is an epic of endurance, resistance and the undying hope that the relatives of disappeared political prisoners in Libya and the Arab world continue to hold for a better future.

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Lovely book

Absolutely lovely book which definitely hit home (being that I'm also Libyan). Beautifully written, although a few hours in it was incredibly slow and took me a while to get through but once you get through that it goes by so quickly. Highly recommend

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Exceptional....

The material, so sensitive and personal almost stopped me listening. It’s beautifully written and narrated exceptionally as only a writer himself is able; telling the tragic cruel history of Libya; his diaspora and return and the rediscovery of his absent imprisoned father and family.
I’m not going to dare offer further bumbling comment but the sound editors didn’t leave enough of a natural pause between chapters, and the book deserves this.

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Compassion fatigue

I expected great things. I enjoyed finding out about Libya and the personal history. In the end the search for the author's father became repetitious and a bit dull. The narrator's tone exacerbated my impatience. Maybe I just lack empathy.

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well written autobiography

includes African history of Libyan occupation and a story of a man in search for his father

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  • Tala!
  • 29-04-20

What a journey

Very rare a book or an author can take me into his or her journey so deeply ... maybe it’s the story, the narration, the beautiful writing or a combination of all of them! I felt Hisham’s pain, his disappointment, and his longing ... I savoured it till the last second .