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World Literature with Anderson Tepper: Pulitzer Winner Hisham Matar

February 6 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST

Booker nominated & Pulitzer winner Hisham Matar shares his brand new novel, My Friends, in City of Asylum debut.

My Friends, the new novel by Hisham Matar, is truly a miracle—a one-of-a-kind book about friendship in a foreign land, revolution, and memory. It is about how the passage of time is experienced privately, especially when cut off from family and home, and it is a work that is so exquisitely written that reading it will defy time itself. Like me, I’m sure you will want to savor every page and passage, staving off the end for as long as possible. Hisham Matar is a writer of major international significance; it will be an honor to welcome him to Pittsburgh.” —Anderson Tepper

One evening, as a young boy growing up in Benghazi, Khaled hears a bizarre short story read aloud on the radio, about a man being eaten alive by a cat, and has the sense that his life has been changed forever. Obsessed by the power of those words—and by their enigmatic author, Hosam Zowa—Khaled eventually embarks on a journey that will take him far from home, to pursue a life of the mind at the University of Edinburgh.

There, thrust into an open society that is miles away from the world he knew in Libya, Khaled begins to change. He attends a protest against the Qaddafi regime in London, only to watch it explode into tragedy. In a flash, Khaled finds himself injured, clinging to life, unable to leave Britain or return to the country of his birth. When a chance encounter in a hotel brings Khaled face-to-face with Hosam Zowa, the author of the fateful short story, he is subsumed into the deepest friendship of his life. It is a friendship that not only sustains him but eventually forces him, as the Arab Spring erupts, to confront agonizing tensions between revolution and safety, family and exile, and how to define his own sense of self against those closest to him.

My Friends is described as “a luminous novel of friendship, family, and the unthinkable realities of exile” by Random House. A devastating meditation on friendship and family, and the ways in which time tests—and frays—those bonds, My Friends is an achingly beautiful work of literature by an author working at the peak of his powers.

This reading will be followed by a conversation moderated by Anderson Tepper and an audience Q&A. You can purchase your own copy of Hisham’s book, My Friends, at City of Asylum Bookstore.

About the Author:

Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents, spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo, and has lived most of his adult life in London. His debut novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and The Guardian First Book Award, and won numerous international prizes, including the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and a Commonwealth First Book Award. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was published to great acclaim in 2011. His prize-winning memoir, The Return, was published in 2016 and was the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Award, the Prix du Livre Étranger Inter & Le Journal du Dimanche, the Rathbones Folio Prize, The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize and Germany’s Geschwister Scholl Prize. It was one of The New York Times‘ top 10 books of the year. Matar’s work has been translated into thirty languages.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Comparative Literature, Asia & Middle East Cultures, and English at Barnard College, Columbia University.

About the Moderator:

Anderson Tepper is City of Asylum’s Curator of World Literature. He is a longstanding member of the international committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival and is a guest curator of the 2024 PEN AMERICA World Voices Festival. Formerly of Vanity Fair, he writes on books and authors for a variety of publications, including The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times, and World Literature Today. Anderson also serves on the City of Asylum Advisory Board.

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant 40 North is closed on Monday and Tuesday, but a cash wine bar will be available.

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February 6
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST
Program Category:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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