Sunday, September 06, 2009

laila lalami blogs on hisham matar

Moroccan novelist Laila Lalami, whose latest novel is Secret Son, has added a timely ingredient to the current brouhaha over relations between the UK and Libya with the reminder on her website that: "A couple of years ago, the novelist Hisham Matar wrote a very moving piece about his father, Jaballa Matar, who was allegedly kidnapped by Egyptian security forces in March 1990 and then rendered to Libya. He has not been seen in nineteen years, and has not been heard from in ten". She quotes from his very moving essay in the Independent, and then refers her readers to the recent Guardian piece in which Matar explains his feelings over al-Megrahi's release:
I am imagining my father today. For the past 20 years he has been a political prisoner in Libya. The Libyan government continues to deny his existence. This even though Amnesty International has documented the case. In this time he has not been able to see or communicate with anyone outside the prison. Then I think of him hearing how well his oppressors are doing in the world. I think of him listening to the celebrations of the prison guards at the news of al-Megrahi's return. The prisoners might have been given presents to mark the occasion. Then I think of al-Megrahi's children welcoming him home.
Matar's debut novel In the Country of Men, set in late 1970s Libya, was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker prize - a great achievement, especially for a first book. Maybe the Downing Street bunker reading group would like to add it to its autumn reading list.

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