Born to Libyan parents in New York, growing up between Tripoli and Cairo, Hisham Matar is perfectly placed to translate the tumult behind the Arab Spring to western readers. His perceptive, multi-layered novels evoke the knife-edge vulnerability of life under dictatorship – and in exile. Matar’s father, a Libyan dissident, was kidnapped and imprisoned in 1990; he is counted as one of Libya’s ‘disappeared’. This tragedy is at the heart of both Matar’s novels: the Booker-shortlisted In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance.
In conversation with Sarah L'Estrange, Hisham dives headlong into the ideas and experiences that inform his exquisite writing.
Hisham Matar appeared with the support of British Council.
Sarah L’Estrange is a producer on Books and Arts Daily, ABC Radio National.
Michael Cathcart presents the radio show, Books and Arts Daily for Radio National.
Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. His first novel, In the Country of Men, was published in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, The Guardian First Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US. The Return, his latest work of non-fiction, won a Pulitzer Prize for biography or autobiography.
Dame Stella Rimington joined the Security Service (MI5) in 1968 and was appointed Director General in 1992, the first woman to hold the post. Her latest novel is Rip Tide.