Hisham Matar has won the 2017 Rathbones Folio Prize for his memoir, The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between (Random House, 2016). Formerly known as the Folio Prize and given exclusively to fiction books, the annual £20,000 prize is now given for a book in any genre written in English and published in the United Kingdom in the previous year.
The Return, which also won a 2017 Pulitzer Prize, follows Matar’s return to his native home of Libya in search of answers to his father’s disappearance. About the book, Folio judges Ahdaf Soueif, Rachel Holmes, and Lucy Hughes-Hallett said, “The Return shows what a novelist at the top of his game can do with nonfiction. It gives the reader the same aesthetic, the same satisfaction of the great literary works that enter our lives and stay with us forever.” In addition to The Return, Matar is the author of two acclaimed novels, In the Country of Men (2008) and Anatomy of a Disappearance (2012).
The seven finalists were The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velázquez by Laura Cumming; This Census-Taker by China Miéville; The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan; The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson; Golden Hill by Francis Spufford; Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien; and Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution & War by Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab. The finalists were chosen from sixty-two books nominated by the Folio Prize Academy, an international group of writers and critics.