Friday, December 15, 2017

the last book I ever read (The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, excerpt one)

from 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner in Biography The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar:

On the 1st of September 1969, fourteen months before I was born, an event took place that was to change the course of Libyan history and my life. In my mind’s eye, I see a Libyan army officer crossing St James’s Square at about 2 P.M. towards what was then the Libyan Embassy in London. He had gone to the British capital on official business. He was popular amongst his peers, although his gentle reserve was sometimes mistaken for arrogance. He had committed to memory pages of verse that, many years later when he was imprisoned, would become his comfort and companion. Several political prisoners told me that, at night, when the prison fell silent, when, in Uncle Mahmoud’s words, “you could hear a pin drop or a grown man weep softly to himself,” they heard this man’s voice, steady and passionate, reciting poems. “He never ran out of them,” his nephew, who was in prison at the same time, told me. And I remember this man who never ran out of poems telling me once that “knowing a book by heart is like carrying a house inside your chest.”

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