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Anatomy of a Disappearance: A Novel Hardcover – August 23, 2011
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Praise for Anatomy of a Disappearance
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY:
Chicago Tribune • The Daily Beast • The Independent • The Guardian • The Telegraph • The Toronto Sun • Irish Times
“For Western readers, what often seemed lacking [in the coverage of the Arab Spring] was an authentic interpreter and witness, someone who could speak across cultures and make us feel the abundant miseries that fueled the revolt. No one plays this role, in my view, as powerfully, as Hisham Matar…Matar writes in English, in extraordinarily powerful and densely evocative prose: he seems uniquely poised to play the role of literary ambassador between two worlds…”--The New York Times
“Mesmerizing. . . . The recent events that have lent topicality to this elegiac novel might easily have swamped a lesser work. Its strength rests in Matar's decision to focus on emotional rather than material details, proving that in art, at least, the personal can trump the political.”—Houston Chronicle
“A haunting novel, exquisitely written and psychologically rich.”—Washington Post
“[A] potent new novel . . . which moves among eerily silent interiors in London, Cairo, and Geneva to evoke the emotional vacuum that follows [a] father’s abduction.”--Vogue
“Outstanding . . . with its stylistic echoes of Nabokov.”—The Irish Times
“Elegiac . . . [Hisham Matar] writes of a son’s longing for his lost father with heartbreaking acuity.”—Newsday
“A son without closure writes sparingly and brilliantly about what it is to suffer loss without end.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Eloquent . . . one of the most moving works based on a boy’s view of the world.”
“A searing vision of familial rupture and disintegration. . . . 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. . . . An elegant and smart evocation of the complexities of filial love.”—«Publishers Weekly, starred review
“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
“Sculpted in a prose of clutter-free, classical precision . . . a pure demonstration of the strange alchemy of fiction.”—The Independent (U.K.)
“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
“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 (London)
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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Like Hemingway, he's economical with his words, choosing each one carefully and deliberately. He brings even the simplest of actions to life, tearing each moment down to its emotional core. As such, the reader feels it all, and the characters' pain is the reader's pain.
Nuri is a strange kid. His stepmother Mona tells him so, although she's one to talk. But is he really so odd? More than anything, he's a boy with desires, like any typical adolescent. Since he's a child, so much is hidden from him, and as he grows up, he searches for answers and comes to his own realizations. Secrets are uncovered, but what about the biggest secret of all? Where is his father?
Supposedly, the book is not autobiographical, but aspects of the plot mirror the author's life. I think that's why it's so powerful. He wrote what he knew. It's also reminiscent of The White Piano by Uvi Poznansky, another story about an odd son and his difficult relationship with his father and stepmother. The fact that I see similarities demonstrates that no matter the culture, we all face the same issues with family and life in general.