‘The Return’: Hisham Matar’s Greatest Book So Far


ArabLit

This review first ran on BookWitty, a new social-lit site for readers, authors, and publishers:

fatherssonsAll the books on Libya’s modern history “could fit neatly on a couple of shelves,” Hisham Matar writes in his new memoir The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between.

Whether or not that’s strictly true, there are reasons why historians have been relatively silent on the country: Libya’s recent rulers have not been kind to investigative writers. After Danish journalist Knud Holmboe published his 1931 indictment of Italian colonial rule, Desert Encounter, his book was banned and he was killed, allegedly at the order of the Italians. Matar’s grandfather Hamed was apparently arrested by the Italians and escaped, but no record of these arrests was kept. During the forty-two-year reign of Muammar Ghaddafi, dozens of writers were censored, imprisoned, or killed. Documents were falsified, hidden, and destroyed.

The Return doesn’t present…

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