Hisham Matar - book author
Hisham Matar was born in New York City, where his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations. When he was three years old, his family went back to Tripoli, Libya, where he spent his early childhood. Due to political persecutions by the Ghaddafi regime, in 1979 his father was accused of being a reactionary to the Libyan revolutionary regime and was forced to flee the country with his family. They lived in exile in Egypt where Hisham and his brother completed their schooling in Cairo. In 1986 he moved to London, United Kingdom, where he continued his studies and received a degree in architecture. In 1990, while he was still in London, his father, a political dissident, was kidnapped in Cairo. He has been reported missing ever since. However, in 1996, the family received two letters with his father's handwriting stating that he was kidnapped by the Egyptian secret police, handed over to the Libyan regime, and imprisoned in the notorious Abu-Salim prison in the heart of Tripoli. Since that date, there has been no more information about his father's whereabouts.
Hisham Matar began writing poetry and experimented in theatre. He began writing his first novel In the Country of Men in early 2000. In the autumn of 2005, the publishers Penguin International signed a two-book deal with him, and the novel was a huge success.
Hisham Matar is the author of books: The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between, In the Country of Men, Anatomy of a Disappearance, A Month in Siena, Naima, Il Libro di Dot, De terugkeer, Hjemkomsten: Fædre, sønner og landet imellem dem, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories: 2012, Lunatics, Lovers and Poets: Twelve Stories after Cervantes and Shakespeare
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 Jaballa 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.
Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn’t he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie?
Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand—where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father’s cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend’s father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television.
In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare. But above all, it is a debut of rare insight and literary grace.
Nuri will, however, soon regret what he wished for. His father, long a dissident in exile from his homeland, is taken under mysterious circumstances. And, as the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered by events beyond their control, they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved.
Anatomy of a Disappearance is written with all the emotional precision and intimacy that have won Hisham Matar tremendous international recognition. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, he asks: When a loved one disappears, how does their absence shape the lives of those who are left?
'Hisham Matar has the quality all historians - of the world and the self - most need: he knows how to stand back and let the past speak' Hilary Mantel on The Return
When Hisham Matar was nineteen years old he came across the Sienese School of painting for the first time. In the year in which Matar's life was shattered by the disappearance of his father the work of the great artists of Siena seemed to offer him a sense of hope. Over the years since then, Matar's feelings towards these paintings would deepen and, as he says, 'Siena began to occupy the sort of uneasy reverence the devout might feel towards Mecca or Rome or Jerusalem'.
A Month in Siena is the encounter, twenty-five years later, between the writer and the city he had worshipped from afar. It is a dazzling evocation of an extraordinary place and its effect on the writer's life. It is an immersion in painting, a consideration of grief and a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and the human condition.
'An exquisite, deeply affecting book' - Evening Standard
'This book tells us much about the extraordinary power of art to inspire' Literary Review
Novelette about the relationship between a young Arab boy in Egypt and the family maid in the aftermath of his mother’s death…
are of imagination all compact."
- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the deaths of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, And Other Stories and Hay Festival have selected twelve contemporary international authors to each write an original and previously unpublished story as their tribute to these giants of world literature.
In order to celebrate the international influence of both writers and offer us new and intriguing perspectives on them, six English-speaking authors have taken inspiration from Cervantes and his work, while six Spanish-language authors have written stories inspired by Shakespeare.
The authors are Ben Okri, Deborah Levy, Kamila Shamsie, Yuri Herrera, Marcos Giralt Torrente, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Vicente Molina Foix, Soledad Puértolas, Hisham Matar, Nell Leyshon, Rhidian Brook and Valeria Luiselli. An introduction by Salman Rushdie explores the liberating legacy of Cervantes and Shakespeare for contemporary fiction.