Aaron is one of our brand-new booksellers in Oakland, and he has a thing or two -- many more than that, even -- about international literature. When he's not at the store, you might find him in conversation with the likes of Jennifer Makumbi or Carmen Boullosa, or writing insightful commentary and reviews for OkayAfrica on books like Hisham Matar's The Return.
"Indeed, his novels are so close to his own life that at one point in The Return—as the two are boarding a plane to Libya—his mother asks a “mischievous question,” as he calls it: “Who’s returning? Suleiman el-Dewani or Nuri el-Alfi?” These are the names of the protagonists of his two novels, fictional versions of Matar himself that—in his mother’s very serious joke—were suddenly brought to life. After a life spent dreaming about return, and in his fiction, trying to imagine the truth of his lost father, The Return is Hisham Matar coming face to face with reality—or trying to—but finding it to be as ambiguous and depthless as any novel, an ocean without a floor."