Anatomy of a Disappearance: Book summary and reviews of Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

Anatomy of a Disappearance

A Novel

By Hisham Matar

Anatomy of a Disappearance
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

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?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Matar offers a searing vision of familial rupture and disintegration in his trenchant follow-up to In the Country of Men." - Publishers Weekly

"First serial rights were sold to The New Yorker. Get it." - Library Journal

"...Matar cautiously and evocatively explores the unique and terrifying world in which Nuri finds himself.... A son without closure writes sparingly and brilliantly about what it is to suffer loss without end." - Kirkus Reviews

"Sculpted in a prose of clutter-free, classical precision... a pure demonstration of the strange alchemy of fiction." - The Independent (UK)

"A tenderly written novel with Shakespearean themes, it can be read as a deeply personal account of the losses that tyranny and exile produce." - The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"Haunting in every sense... An absorbing novel that finds its eloquence in what is left unsaid." - The Sunday Times (London)

"Submerged grief gives this fine novel the mythic inexorability of Greek tragedy." - The Economist

"A fable of loss, and an often troubling meditation on fathers and sons... Hisham Matar is writing from the heart." - The Guardian (UK)

"Two things stood out as I read Anatomy of a Disappearance. First, there was the quiet power of the language, and the author's control of it. Second, there was Hisham Matar's ability to tell a story that from the first sentence seems inevitable, yet is full of surprises. I was moved and very impressed." – Roddy Doyle

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Author Information

Hisham Matar Author Biography

Photo: © Diana Matar

Hisham Matar was born in 1970 in New York City where his father, Jaballa Matar,  worked for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations.  When he was three years old, his family returned to Tripoli, Libya where he spent his early childhood until political persecution forced his mother to flee with the children first to Kenya and then to Egypt, where they settled in Cairo and Hisham and his brother Ziad attended a school with 70 pupils per classroom (the only school they could afford). Later, Hisham's father managed to get out of Libya and join them. 

In Cairo, Hisham's father began his political work in earnest: writing against the Libyan regime and mobilizing the various factions of the exiled Libyan resistance to unite in order to overthrow the regime...

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