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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

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Author Books

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01
From Man Booker Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Hisham Matar, a memoir of his journey home to his native Libya in search of answers to his father's disappearance. In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years.     

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.
02
In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the effects of Libyan strongman Khadafy's 1969 September revolution.

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.
03
Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness that her strange death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment he shares with his father. Until they meet Mona, sitting in her yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina hotel. As soon as Nuri sees her, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. And their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear.

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?
04
FROM THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AND MAN BOOKER-SHORTLISTED AUTHOR

'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

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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.

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'An exquisite, deeply affecting book' - Evening Standard

'This book tells us much about the extraordinary power of art to inspire' Literary Review
05
Free online fiction from the New Yorker.

Novelette about the relationship between a young Arab boy in Egypt and the family maid in the aftermath of his mother’s death…
06
Chi è Dot? Perché è così silenzioso? Che cosa cerca? Che cosa sogna di diventare? Stanco di starsene sempre al proprio posto, Dot decide di fuggire e intraprendere un viaggio alla ricerca della propria essenza, per diventare finalmente qualcosa di speciale. Ma quello che Dot troverà, dopo esperienze incredibili e infinite sorprese, sarà molto più di quanto avesse mai potuto immaginare.
08
Hisham Matar er nitten år gammel, da hans far bliver kidnappet i Kairo og sendt i fængsel i Libyen. Sønnen kommer aldrig til at se sin far igen. Tyve år senere, i 2012, kan Hisham Matar vende tilbage til Libyen for første gang i 22 år. Erindringsbogen Hjemkomsten er hans gribende fortælling om en søns søgen efter sin far og håbet om at finde ud af, hvad der skete; han fortæller om at vende tilbage til et land, der er revet brutalt i stykker, om at træffe onkler og tanter, som han ikke har set, siden han var en lille dreng. På en og samme tid en universel og dybt personlig erindringsbog og en enestående kilde til en nuanceret indlevelse, hvis man vil forstå Mellemøstens nuværende krise.
09
The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012 gathers twenty of the best short stories of the year, selected from thousands published in literary magazines. These remarkable stories explore the boundaries of the imagination in settings as various as an army training camp in China, the salt mines of Detroit, a divided Balkan town, and the eye of a hurricane. Also included are essays from the eminent jurors on their favorite stories, observations from the winners on what inspired them, and an extensive resource list of magazines.
10
"The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
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.