Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Book of the Week - Hisham Matar, Anatomy of a Disappearance

It is appropriate this week to select a book by a Libyan author, in which the central event is the disappearance of a father kidnapped by the secret police. Anatomy of a Disappearance is a second novel from Hisham Matar, who’s first book (In the Country of Men) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2006. In real life, Matar’s father has disappeared in Libya, and is perhaps still alive in custody, so he writes at least in part from personal experience. He writes well about small details, capturing the minor incongruous elements which make terrible events seem real. Reviews suggest that this is a strong second novel, certainly worth picking up and reading, and perhaps again a contender for prizes.

" 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 Mona. When Nuri first sees Mona, sitting in her bright yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina holiday resort, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and who she will eventually marry. And their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he longs to get his father out of the way. However, Nuri will soon regret what he wished for. And, as he and his stepmother’s world is shattered by events beyond their control, they both begin to realise how little they really knew about the man they loved. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, Hisham Matar asks, in his extraordinary new novel, when a loved one disappears how does their absence shape the lives of those who are left?"

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