Libya’s missed opportunity: Hisham Matar

Last week Libyan author Hisham Matar met with 702 Mornings host Linda Mottram at the Sydney Writers’ Festival for a live broadcast interview, discussing such topics as exile, the shifting roles of the writer, and the potential for another “Libyan Novel”.

Hisham Matar at the Sydney Writers' Festival.

On the responsibility to write:

❝ There is a distinction between the citizen and the artist that I have always felt. When I sit and write an article, as a citizen the experience of writing is very different from when I sit and write a novel. Even the way I sit, the way I feel as myself, you know, feels different. And this experience –this very extreme experience—of the revolution and the overwhelming invitations that are put to you as a citizen to get involved has clarified this distinction for me even more. So I feel, yes, as a citizen, I feel obliged to be an active citizen, to speak truth to power, call injustice by its name. But the artist continues to feel no obligation towards these things at all. The obligation I feel as an artist is solely to the work. “

On Gaddafi’s death:

 “I think the way that he was killed was morally wrong. But it also was a missed opportunity for the future of the country. It overcomplicates things to do with accountability, with the relationship of justice to revenge, all of those things. Its very difficult territory to navigate…[but also] there was something being played out there in the violent way that he was treated that seemed to say something about the past too. It was a moment of psychosis that expressed something about the horror but also the sense of impotence that I think people felt towards life.”

Listen to the full 15-minute interview here. 

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