The Pulitzer Prize-winning American born British-Libyan author Hisham Matar won the coveted award for The Return, his 2016 memoir about his journey to Libya to find out what happened to his father. An exiled opponent of the infamously brutal Gaddafi regime, the elder Matar was kidnapped in Cairo and flown back to Libya, where he disappeared, when the author was just 19. That was the same year that Matar discovered the Sienese school of painting, where he turned to find both comfort and clarity after his father was kidnapped, visiting the gallery at lunch where he would spend an hour studying just one painting. The parallel stories inform his second memoir, the recently published A Month in Siena, which speaks eloquently of his sense of loss and of suspended time, solitude, loneliness, love, and the way in which art can both console and consume us.
Reviewers have praised how the author explores his own inner landscape as if walking the outline of an idea, revealing thoughts that are both of that time and connected to our own current world in addressing the limits of grief, how the imagination is altered by events, and the acknowledgement that both love and art are an expression of faith. Matar will offer a reading from A Month in Siena and engage in a conversation about the subject and his life as an author in the second installment in a new series of free Parallel Stories events offered by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art via Zoom. Visit sbma.net for details and to register and receive the Zoom link for the 11 am to 12:30 pm event on Sunday, August 23.