All posts tagged: Hisham Matar’s riveting

The Pain of Exile, the Pain of Return

The Pain of Exile, the Pain of Return

The onset of the Arab Spring can feel like the distant past amid the grim brutality of our current times, but it raises timeless questions. What is the trade-off between courage and safety; idealism and caution; hope for change and fear of it? In hindsight, we can tell a story of how the wave of revolution crested and the undertow of counterrevolution prevailed. Autocrats remained in power. Uprisings turned into simmering civil and sectarian conflicts. Millions of people sought refuge in a West that so often fails to recognize their common humanity. Still those timeless questions haunt Hisham Matar’s riveting and humane novel of exile, My Friends. While the novel works its way up to the Arab Spring as a climactic revelation of character, the fulcrum of My Friends is one of those extraordinary events lost to history. On April 17, 1984, a group of Libyan officials sprayed gunfire at a demonstration gathered in front of their embassy in London. A 25-year-old British policewoman was killed. Several Libyan diaspora protesters were wounded. After an 11-day …