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Celebrated Novelist Hisham Matar to Visit the University of Iowa as an Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor

We are pleased to announce that beginning Tuesday, September 18th, the University of Iowa will welcome New York Times bestselling novelist Hisham Matar, this year’s Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, to Iowa City for four days of literary events.

While at the University of Iowa, Matar will visit classes, discuss translation and international literature with residents at the International Writing Program, and meet with undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty from the University’s various writing programs.

The public will also have a chance to get to know Matar through a series of free events. On Wednesday, September 19, at 11:00am, Matar will give a craft talk, "Never Believe What a Writer Says," to be followed by a Q&A session in the Frank Conroy Reading Room, Dey House, 507 N. Clinton.

Wednesday evening, at 7:00pm, he will read from his latest novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, at Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque. For those of you outside Iowa City, the reading will be streamed live by The Writing University.

When a loved one “disappears,” how does that absence shape the lives of those who are left? 

Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and raised in Tripoli and Cairo. His father, once a United Nations diplomat, was kidnapped in Cairo in 1990, managed to have two letters smuggled out of a Libyan prison in 1996, and was last seen alive in 2002.

Though certain elements of Anatomy of a Disappearance echo the author's life story, Matar emphasizes that it is a work of fiction and is not autobiographical. The novel was named one of the best books of the year by publications including The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Toronto Sun, and The Irish Times. The Washington Post hailed it as “A haunting novel, exquisitely written and psychologically rich,” and the New York Times called it “Studded with little jewels of perception.”

Matar’s debut novel, In the Country of Men, won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the 2007 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Italian Premio Vallombrosa Gregor von Rezzori, and the inaugural Arab American Book Award, and has been translated into 22 languages. His stories, essays, and articles have been published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times and many other publications. Matar now lives in London and is an associate professor at Barnard College in New York City.

Other events open to the public include a brown bag lunch to discuss global human rights and social justice issues with the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, as part of their Careers for Change lecture series, Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00pm in the POROI conference room, Bowman House, 230 N. Clinton St.

On Friday, September 21st at 2:00pm, Matar will participate in an interactive discussion and Q&A session hosted by The Writing University.  Questions can be sent ahead of time to:

You will also be able to hear Matar interviewed on Iowa Public Radio’s program River to River and on University Radio KRUI’s The Lit Show. We are delighted to welcome Matar to Iowa City and we hope many of you will join us at the public events!

For daily updates on Hisham Matar’s visit, stop by our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

The Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program was established in 1978-79 with the income from a bequest to the University by the late Ida Cordelia Beam of Vinton.

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