2017 PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD
Hisham Matar for The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between (Penguin Random House)
The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award is an annual award which recognizes a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact. This literary honor will be conferred on a book that has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.
From the Judges’ Citation
Hisham Matar’s The Return is a magnificent book about love and family, about crushing loss and the destruction of hope inflicted by brutal political tyranny. The narrative of Matar’s hunt for information about his father, who was “disappeared” in Qaddafi’s Libya, is told with clarity and grace and with a poet’s sensibility. It is both an intimate study of emotion and a precisely reported, broader look at the horror of dictatorships and the devastation they can wreak on families and communities. Although the narrative jumps back and forth through time, there are no tricks or gimmicks in this book; it is an honest and intense portrait of filial yearning—the pivot on which the story turns and turns. Exquisitely written and profoundly felt, The Return is essential reading that breaks our hearts while piercing us with light.
Sonali Deraniyagala, Carolyn Forché, Gregory Pardlo, Norman Rush, and Deborah Treisman
Click here for additional information, including submission guidelines, for the award.