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Category Archive for 'Libya'

Libyan author Hisham Matar draws on his own life to provide insights into this story of a son’s yearning for the father he loved but who vanished when he was fourteen. In real life, Matar’s father Jaballa, once a member of the Libyan delegation to the United Nations and, after Muammar Gaddafi’s coup, a political dissident, went into exile in Egypt in 1979, when his son was nine. He was kidnapped in 1990, when his son was twenty, his fate unknown to this day. This fraught background provides the structure of Matar’s novel, the story of Nuri el-Alfi, a young boy whose mother dies rather mysteriously when he is nine. When Nuri is fourteen, his father and his new wife Mona meet Nuri in Switzerland at the Montreux Palace Hotel, and it is on this vacation that his father is abducted. The Swiss police have no leads. As the author continues Nuri’s story from that moment up to age twenty-four, the bare bones outline of his life at the time of the kidnapping gradually broadens and gets filled in, and his life as an exile, without family or country, takes shape. Through flashbacks and reminiscences, the reader also comes to know more about Nuri’s younger life and his father’s role as a dissident in exile.

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