adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2017

From the author of In the Country of Men, a Man Booker Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, comes a beautifully written, uplifting memoir of his journey home to his native Libya in search of the truth behind his father's disappearance.

When Hisham Matar was a 19-year-old university student in England, his father was kidnapped. One of the Qaddafi regime's most prominent opponents in exile, he was held in a secret prison in Libya. Hisham would never see him again. But he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. "Hope," as he writes, "is cunning and persistent." Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Qaddafi, the prison cells were empty, and there was no sign of Jaballa Matar. Hisham returned with his mother and wife to the homeland he never thought he'd go back to again.

The Return is the story of what he found there. It is at once an exquisite meditation on history, politics, and art; a brilliant portrait of a nation and a people on the cusp of change; and a disquieting depiction of the brutal legacy of absolute power. Above all, it is a universal tale of loss and love and of one family's life. Hisham Matar asks the harrowing question: How does one go on living in the face of a loved one's uncertain fate?

©2016 Hisham Matar (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Pulitzer Prize, Biography, 2017
The Return is a riveting book about love and hope, but it is also a moving meditation on grief and loss. It draws a memorable portrait of a family in exile and manages also to explore the politics of Libya with subtlety and steely intelligence. It is a quest for the truth in a dark time, constructed with a novelist's skill, written in tones that are both precise and passionate. It is likely to become a classic.” (Colm Tóibín)
“A triumph of art over tyranny, structurally thrilling, intensely moving, The Return is a treasure for the ages.” (Peter Carey)
“What a brilliant book. Hisham Matar has the quality all historians - of the world and the self - most need: He knows how to stand back and let the past speak. In chronicling his quest for his father, his manner is fastidious, even detached, but his anger is raw and unreconciled; through his narrative art he bodies out the shape of loss and gives a universality to his very particular experience of desolation.” (Hilary Mantel)

What listeners say about The Return

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    491
  • 4 Stars
    196
  • 3 Stars
    95
  • 2 Stars
    36
  • 1 Stars
    16
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    522
  • 4 Stars
    128
  • 3 Stars
    69
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    15
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    468
  • 4 Stars
    154
  • 3 Stars
    86
  • 2 Stars
    30
  • 1 Stars
    16

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Touching memoir. Consider hard copy

Sometimes I wondered whether this book would not deserve to be read rather than being listened to. Though the voice of the author carries the story well, its low tone can at first appear monotonous, and later accentuates the story's heaviness to a degree that is hardly bearable at times. I also have the hard copy of the book and turning the pages from times to times felt good; the poetry seemed even more multi-faceted and the depths were easier to deal with. Anyway, whatever format one prefers, I highly recommend it.

65 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The author's own voice

Hisham Matar's voice is haunting and authentic. You hear all the names and places pronounced as intended. Placing Tony Blair in the Libyan circle of influence is chilling.
As much as his novel, Country of Men continues to haunt me 5 years after I read it, this autobiographical narrative is historically relevant beyond mere words.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Astounding

Glorious in every conceivable way. Matar gives a moving performance. The end is absolute perfection, leaving you both warm and cold at the same time.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a beautiful book, and a perfect reading by the aut

Matar is a master storyteller, beautifully and lyrically intertwining social and personal loss. and he narrated the story incredibly well.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Predominantly Political

This was rather dry and overly politically-oriented than suits my taste. It is an intelligent discourse, however, but I must admit that I did not find it as interesting as I had anticipated. It lacked a warmth necessary to engage this reader.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

interesting and Purposefully Unsatisfying

When I began this book I had no background to start it; this was a book club choice. I am a 47 year old American woman, who has never trusted the media to tell the whole story of anything and didn't pay attention to Lybia, ever. From the get go, I realized the author was either pretentious or vastly smarter and more well read than myself. I discovered, it is the latter, but that Matar is extremely well read. There is no real political agenda except when trying to explain the disappearance of his father. It is a perspective of the author and his family who are immensely affected by the dictatorship of the country. At the end, the story just stops. There is no conclusion, but this is the author's experience. In leaving no real end, you are forced to experience a finite fraction of his own dissatisfaction. A good read, an uncomfortable read, a saddened story.

Matar reads his own story, and has no real emotion in his voice. It is rather bland feeling for such an emotional book. However, I would guess that pronunciation of the Lybian names, french locations, Italian phrases, and the Lybian language which are frequent occurrences in this book, are made beautiful by having Matar read this book. I mean, how many voice over readers can there be that speak such a range of languages well enough to not detract from the story. Matar's own English accent sounds a bit Irish to me, and is more British in his pronouncement which is very pleasant to the ear.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Dealing with the "Absent-Present"

Within a few hours of getting the message that my father was deteriorating rapidly and I was able to get reservations and soon was on a plane. I was somewhere over the pacific when he passed away. I got the news when I was getting my carryon out of the overhead bin changing planes in Minneapolis/St Paul. I still mourn over not making it back in time to see my father before he died and often think of him and wonder about his last hours. Hisham Matar was a 19-year-old student in London when his father was taken away by the Egyptian police from their home in Cairo, Egypt. They had moved there a decade earlier due to threats on him by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. His father never returned and it was years before they found that he had been immediately turned over to Libyans who took him back and imprisoned him in Gaddafi's most notorious prison in Tripoli. Rumors kept his hope alive and Hisham worked over the next two decades to find out what happened and secure his father’s release. This book is about that struggle. They never received any confirmation of his father’s death, only knowing that when Gaddafi was overthrown more than 20 years later, the doors to the prison were opened, but his father was no longer there. They suspect that he was killed in a huge massacre of almost 1300 prisoners in June 1996 almost 7 years after he was taken. Hisham is haunted by the fact that he doesn’t know the date his father died. The book is not just a story of a search. It is about the struggle of a soul that not only lost a father’s love but the normal rebelliousness of youth. It is filled, not with platitudes and the usual descriptions of mourning. It is a look into the depths of the heart of a man who is loyal and committed, who risked his life to keep asking questions and confront a brutal regime, who feels loss deeply, and who is willing to bare that heart to us. His mother refers to her husband as “the Absent-Present,” a term that aptly describes how I sometimes feel when I remember a loved one gone. Near the end of the book, he is fairly certain that his father was killed, but there is still no certainty, only a sense of acceptance. “For a quarter of a century now, hope has been seeping out of me,” he writes. “Now I can say, I am almost free of it.” This is not a book to take out when you just want something fun and light. It’s a book that will not only draw you into his loss but expose your own pain in some way. You’ll not only feel for him, but for yourself and for humanity. This book has jumped to the top of my list of the best books from the past year.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A powerful and affecting memoir

Matar writes seamlessly from the heart and head. A powerful and concisely told story that puts a human face on Libya.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

slow at the beginning, but so worth it.

Slow at the beginning, but so worth it. No one was better to read it than the writer.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A meditation on love and loss

Where does The Return rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very much at the top!

What other book might you compare The Return to and why?

I don't read very many memoirs because I find they hold my attention less so than great fiction. But this one gripped me from the very first page and kept me riveted to the page till the very end.

Have you listened to any of Hisham Matar’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first time I have listened to Matar and I found his reading truly remarkable. His distinctive accent, I suppose a mix of English and Arabic, coupled with the slow, measured pace of the delivery made the listening experience a rapturous one. Matar recounts how his father used to recite poetry at social gatherings, and later when he was captive in prison. The author has clearly inherited his father's gift.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were so many. Here is one from the beginning. When Matar went to boarding school in England, he went under a false name and a false background, as a Christian Egyptian. There he befriends a Libyan Muslim: it is only at the end of their schooling that he confesses his true identity to his friend.

Any additional comments?

The language here is so lovely, akin to reading poetry. And Matar gave me insights on how to observe art.

10 people found this helpful