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Earlier this year, author Hisham Matar set up a communications center in his apartment in London to help those fighting for revolution in his native Libya.
As the tide was turning in the struggle, he saw people marching with pictures of his father, an early dissident jailed by the Gadhafi regime in the 1990s who hasn’t been seen since 2002.
Last year, Hisham heard that his father, Jaballa Matar, may still be alive in prison but he had no hope of finding him with Gadhafi still in power. Now Hisham will head back to Libya for the first time in 30 years, in part to look for his father.
“I know that things don’t look so good for us,” for finding my father, he told Here and Now‘s Robin Young.
“But in a bigger sense, it’s good for the country, good for people to be able to find the real story of what happened to their loved ones.”
This is what novelists do, Matar says, we tell the actual stories, “the details of how people love, listen to music, cook a meal [under oppression].” He says such details reveal how the “regime invaded and corrupted the most intimate parts” of people’s lives.
As to what Libya needs at the moment, Matar suggests some version of a Truth and Reconciliation commission, because, he says, Libyans need to find the strength to face up to their own complicity in the regime.