On this episode of The Lit Show Hisham Matar discusses his new novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance. Born in New York City and raised in Libya, Egypt, and London, Matar is the author of In the Country of Men, his debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Both of Matar’s novels are concerned with the extraordinary circumstances of his childhood and family. His father was a political dissident under Muammar el-Qaddafi’s regime while Matar was growing up in Libya. Later, after the family had been exiled to Cairo, his father was kidnapped by agents of the dictator and taken to a Libyan prison notorious for its human rights abuses. His circumstances remain unknown, although Matar and his mother have received smuggled letters and frustratingly occasional evidence of his father’s survival. In both In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance, Matar grapples with the tyranny of dictatorship and the mysteries of loss by exploring the relationship between a young protagonist and his missing father.
Interview by Ben Mauk.
Matar is a guest of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. He will read from his new novel on Wednesday, September 19th, at 7:00 pm at Prairie Lights.