By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 11 April 2017:
Libya’s most outstanding author Hisham Matar has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in biography for his memoir The Return. Matar’s latest book details his return to Libya in 2012 as he sought the truth to his father’s fate, decades after he was kidnapped by Colonel Qaddafi’s secret security.
His father, Jaballa, fled with his family in 1979 to Egypt after voicing his opposition to Qaddafi. A number of years later he was kidnapped by Libyan security forces, taken to Abu Sleem prison in Tripoli and never heard from again.
Matar never completely finds out what happened to his father, though remains fairly certain his died in the 29 June 1996 Abu Sleem massacre, in which 1, 270 prisoners were massacred.
His first novel In the Country of Men was nominated for the 2006 Man Booker Prize and tells the story of a young Libyan boy living with his anti-Qaddafi father.
Matar’s second book follows the life of a teenage boy living in exile in Cairo who loses his parents, with his father being abducted.
The Pulitzer Prize is a series of awards for achievements in journalism, literature and musical composition. This is the first time a Libyan has won a Pulitzer. Winners will receive a $15,000 cash prize, raised from $10,000 in previous years.