In 1990, Libyan agents under Muammar el-Qaddafi kidnapped Hisham Matar's father Jaballa Matar and took him to Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. The Return is Hisham's return to Libya after Qaddafi was overthrown and his search to find out what happened to his father. Hisham, a novelist by trade (author of In The Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance), writes elegantly and simply about his attempt to uncover the fate that met his father in Abu Salim. To get a sense of what the memoir is like, I suggest you read a New Yorker piece of the same title . You do not need to know anything about Libyan politics (I didn't) to get swept away in the politics of the book. Hisham, who lived in exile in London, details the effort he made to get his uncles and cousins - also political prisoners - released from Abu Salim. But this narrative of Hisham struggling against the Libyan government does not overshadow the main tale of The Return: Hisham's return to Libya and coming to terms with the nation's past through flashbacks to his childhood in Libya. I hoped at the end he would find out what happened to his father, but the story is not fulfilling on that end. He tells the tale of his uncles and cousins who spent over 20 years in Abu Salim and what they endured; of his cousin Izzo who fought and was killed during the Libyan Revolution that overthrew Qaddafi; and of his own experiences in exile with his mother and elder brother. I could barely put it down (I stole it from my mom as she is reading it for her book club) and I look forward to reading his two novels.