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Non-fiction book of the month April - The Return by Hisham Matar

(29 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-May-17 10:49:44

Our non-fiction Book of the Month in April was The Return - the incredibly moving memoir by award-winning author Hisham Matar

Matar was 19 when his father was kidnapped from their family home in Cairo and imprisoned in Libya. Twenty-two years later, the fall of Gaddafi meant he was finally able to return to his homeland. In this affecting memoir, the author takes us on an illuminating journey to find his father and rediscover his country.

We gave away 50 copies of The Return to readers in April. If you have read the book, please post up your thoughts and discuss the book on this thread.

RuthCart Fri 05-May-17 10:57:02

I'm looking forward to starting this at the weekend

Nurseblossom Fri 05-May-17 11:06:04

I haven't finished reading it yet but I can see why Colm Toibin commented in his review that it's" likely to become a classic "

GranAnn42 Fri 05-May-17 14:35:40

Such an evoking story of life under Qaddafi. How could anyone treat people in such a barbaric way, and then no record of what happened.

Susangilley7 Fri 05-May-17 17:46:38

Looking forward to starting this. Sounds illuminating.

Anj123 Fri 05-May-17 19:29:01

I am looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the book.

BraayTigger Fri 05-May-17 21:33:10

Amazing account of the authors life. Absolutely brilliant.

Murine Fri 05-May-17 21:36:43

Thankyou very much for the book, I'm looking forward to starting this as soon as I finish my current read.

cordelia16 Sat 06-May-17 08:44:41

Thank you for the book. I will start reading it this coming week.

alialiath Sat 06-May-17 14:27:47

Thank you for my copy of The Return which I've just finished reading.
A very moving account of the author trying to find out what happened to his father Jaballa Hamed Matar after he disappeared under Gaddafi's regime.
The genocide and torture of those imprisoned makes me ashamed to be a human being.
For anyone that has any regard for Tony Blair, this book will change your mind as he was an enabler, along with many other members of the British establishment, by sooking up to the Libyan dictator.

Reastie Sun 07-May-17 07:34:37

Marking place as I've started this yesterday and will post once finished.

mummyhappiness Sun 07-May-17 17:18:08

Looking forward to starting this book when I've finished my current read

cambridgemumof4 Sun 07-May-17 22:22:13

Can't wait to read it - many thanks for the copy.

Amaksy Mon 08-May-17 00:57:07

Thanks for a copy of the book can't wait to read

Belo Mon 08-May-17 15:41:47

Thank you very much for my copy. This is a book I had wanted to read for a while.

I found it to be a very well written wild goose chase. The author returns to Libya to find what happened to his imprisoned Father. In his desperation he meets several unpleasant characters and exposes the rotten state of the prison system. I felt that I knew, right from the beginning, that there would be no happy ending.

sallyc06 Wed 10-May-17 10:19:38

I have read this book this week and could not put it down, it really drew me and made me think. Passed it onto my son now, sure he will enjoy it too. Well worth a read.

mumofmadboys Wed 10-May-17 15:20:28

Thank you for sending me a copy. Great read. Very thought provoking and will live in my memory for a long time. Would definitely recommend it.

1969angep Thu 11-May-17 14:10:29

It's difficult to find the right words for this book. A tale of how a family is torn apart by the corrupt Libyan government. The author's father is incarcerated and now believed to be dead but his family cannot get a straight answer as to when/where he may have been killed, uncles and cousins are also jailed whilst others die fighting for freedom. Trying to get answers via official routes achieve nothing (and, indeed, our government seems to have been quite happy to support the Libyan gravy train whilst it was lucrative to do so). It is not until the final chapters that you really come to understand the full horrors that took place in the Abu Salim jail. The frustration of the author is tangible and understandably so. It is hard to fully conceive what life for this family must be like in the aftermath of having their family literally ripped apart and it certainly makes you appreciate the country we live in. A very moving account indeed and well worth the read.

jammy388 Thu 11-May-17 20:25:59

Not quite sure why I was sent an email to alert me to this thread as I didn't receive a copy of the book. However from the comments here it sounds well worth looking out for.

Reastie Fri 12-May-17 21:08:31

Wow, just wow. I knew next to nothing about Libya before reading this, and tbh it's not the kind of book that I'd go out and be at the top of my list to choose. However, I found this so poignant and beautifully written.

Part of the story have really stayed with me, and will probably stay with me for quite some time. The first that springs to mind is the father he spoke to in the phone who had his dead sons body in his home with him and was glad that it hadn't been burned with others. There just are no words.

On the strength of this I've already bought another book by the author.

Pigeonpea Sun 14-May-17 20:04:54

I've still not received my copy...........

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 15-May-17 11:32:11

We're really sorry that so many people didn't receive their copies of the book. I've been in touch with the publisher today who is looking into this. We'll post on the boards when we have an update.

Great to hear those who received the book enjoyed it as much as we did. Undoubtedly one of my favourites of the year so far.

mgrass Mon 15-May-17 21:22:01

This is my first book by Hisham Matar. This was not at all my usual read as I generally prefer crime novels and thrillers, only rarely having read a biograpy or autobiography.

This book is beautifully written and almost poetic at times, well-detailed, thoughtful and descriptive. It is a great pity then that it failed to grasp my interest during the first half, as this true story is a powerful one and deserving of attention. However, I struggled with the frequent changes in time, place and subject. It did eventually become clear that there was a certain chronological order to the story being related, but it was so interspersed with recollections, and musings on art and literature, that I found it quite distracting.
Ultimately (albeit slowly), I did find myself drawn into the story, to such an extent that I constantly had to stop – to ‘google’ names, places and events in order to satisfy my developing interest in the subject matter.
A true story of loss and grief, pain and anguish, fear, bravery and horrific events. Tricky to get into but expect to be swept away by the story within.

AgentProvocateur Mon 15-May-17 21:27:28

Coincidentally, I always seem to be reading the MN book of the month for my real-life book group grin but I never see the giveaways being advertised? Is it by email or a post here?

Anyway, I love Hisham Matar's fiction, so I was keen to read this. It was so desperately sad and so beatifilly written. It's not really one to dip in and out of - you need to lose yourself in it because there's a bit of chronological jumping about. We all loved it at my book group.

Anj123 Sun 21-May-17 17:50:09

I must admit I know very little about Libya and wouldn't have chosen this book but I have almost finished it and overall I am enjoying it even though parts of it are horrifying. I can't begin to imagine how life has been for the author, and am learning a lot from this book. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read it.

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