Congratulations to Hisham Matar on his second big win for The Return; Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between published by Viking. Last month, The Return was awarded the Biography or Autobiography Pulitzer Prize.
The account of the author’s journey home to Libya in search of his missing father’s story is the first nonfiction book to win the £20,000 prize. The Rathbones Folio prize, previously known as the Folio Prize, has a new remit and is now awarded to the best work of literature, regardless of form, written in English and published in a given year.
Best known as a novelist, Hisham Matar was born in New York, grew up in Tripoli and Cairo, and now lives in England. His debut novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award in 2006. His second, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was published to great acclaim in 2011. The Return is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale. It is an exquisite meditation on how history and politics can bear down on an individual life. And yet Hisham Matar's memoir isn't just about the burden of the past, but the consolation of love, literature and art. It is the story of what it is to be human.
Mary Mount, Hisham Matar's publisher at Viking said: "The Return is a much beloved book here at Viking and we could not be more thrilled that it won the Folio. It is a book that really shows what literature does best. It expands your vision and opens your heart.’
Judges Ahdaf Souief (chair), Rachel Holmes and Lucy Hughes-Hallett chose the winner from a strong shortlist of eight, comprising four novels and four works of non-fiction, all of which were nominated by members of the Folio Academy.
The judges said: “The Return shows what a novelist at the top of his game can do with non-fiction. It gives the reader the same aesthetic, the same satisfaction of the great literary works that enter our lives and stay with us forever.“