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The New York State Writers Institute Presents: Hisham Matar


NYS Writers Institute
4:15 p.m. Standish Room, Science Library, University at Albany
8 p.m. Assembly Hall, University at Albany

Pulitzer Prize-winner Hisham Matar will read from his work at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 30, in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the UAlbany Uptown Campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. Matar will hold an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library.

Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.


Hisham Matar’s memoir, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between, (2016) was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, and The Guardian.

The Return, tells Matar’s story of travels to the Libya of his family’s origin and his search for his missing father, Jaballa, a political activist who disappeared during the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.  Though never seen by his family again, it was known that Jaballa had been taken to the notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, where 1,270 prisoners were murdered in 1996. The memoir presents Matar’s attempt to process his own feelings of love, loss, and uncertainty in a country in search of its own identity following revolution and change.

In an interview with the Indian publication Mint, Matar expressed reservations about writing The Return: “With this one, I was worried. I’m a private person and I don’t talk about these things. A lot of my close friends didn’t know most of this stuff, so it was strange to write about it in a very open way, and I felt very exposed. Then the book took on momentum and I just followed it.”

Michiko Kakutani said in The New York Times that Matar “writes with both a novelist’s eye for physical and emotional detail, and a reporter’s tactile sense of place and time.” The Return also won the 2017 Folio Prize, becoming the first nonfiction book to do so, the inaugural 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and was a finalist for the Baillie Gifford Prize, the Costa Biography Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. 

Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo. His debut novel, In the Country of Men (2007), won six international literary awards, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has been translated into 28 languages. His 2011 novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was named a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian and Chicago Tribune

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at