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Anatomy of a Disappearanceby Hisham Matar
Synopses & Reviews
Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness that her strange death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment he shares with his father. Until they meet Mona, sitting in her yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina hotel. As soon as Nuri sees her, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. And their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear.
Nuri will, however, soon regret what he wished for. His father, long a dissident in exile from his homeland, is taken under mysterious circumstances. And, as the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered by events beyond their control, they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved.
Anatomy of a Disappearance is written with all the emotional precision and intimacy that have won Hisham Matar tremendous international recognition. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, he asks: When a loved one disappears, how does their absence shape the lives of those who are left?
"Matar offers a searing vision of familial rupture and disintegration in his trenchant follow-up to In the Country of Men. Nuri el-Alfi is the son of Kamal Pasha el-Alfi, a powerful man (and exile from an unnamed Arab country that bears a striking resemblance to Matar's native Libya) living in Cairo and involved in 'secret work.' Two rough years after Nuri's mother dies, father and son meet Mona, a half-English, half-Arab woman, who, at 26 is 14 years older than Nuri and 15 years younger than Kamal. Nuri loves Mona madly, but of course she loves his father, and the two quickly marry and shuttle Nuri off to an English boarding school, where he pines for Mona and tries desperately to comprehend his father's personal history. Such understanding is made all the more impossible and necessary when, one wintry day, Kamal is abducted from the Geneva apartment of a woman neither Mona nor Nuri know. At once tough and tender, shaped by the sorrows of memory, Nuri's story is searching, acquiring power in its graceful acceptance of the impossibility of certainty. Although some of the novel's revelations seem more expedient than illuminating, the work as a whole is an elegant and smart evocation of the complexities of filial love. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. His first novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It won six international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. It has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Matar lives in London and serves as an associate professor at Barnard College in New York City.
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