Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
A Novel

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Synopsis

This mesmerizing literary novel 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 that absence shape the lives of those who are left?
 
“A haunting novel, exquisitely written and psychologically rich.”—The Washington Post
 
Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness her 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 Mona, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. Their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear. Nuri will, however, soon regret what he’s wished for. When his father, a dissident in exile from his homeland, is abducted under mysterious circumstances, the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered. And soon they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved.
 
“At once a probing mystery of a father’s disappearance and a vivid coming-of-age story . . . This novel is compulsively readable.”—The Plain Dealer
 
“Studded with little jewels of perception, deft metaphors and details that illuminate character or set a scene.”—The New York Times
 
“One of the most moving works based on a boy’s view of the world.”—Newsweek
 
“Elegiac . . . [Hisham Matar] writes of a son’s longing for a lost father with heartbreaking acuity.”—Newsday
 
Don’t miss the conversation between Hisham Matar and Hari Kunzru at the back of the book. 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE
Chicago Tribune • The Daily Beast • The Independent • The Guardian • The Daily Telegraph • Toronto Sun • The Irish Times
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men.
 

About Hisham Matar

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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.
 
Published August 23, 2011 by The Dial Press. 268 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Anatomy of a Disappearance

Kirkus Reviews

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A lesser writer might suppose that Nuri and Mona would find comfort in their communal untethering, but Matar cautiously and evocatively explores the unique and terrifying world in which Nuri finds himself.

Jul 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

The New York Times

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(There are details hinting that the country may be Iraq, but others that suggest North Africa.) Where Matar’s first book was largely about the narrator’s intense bond with his mother, the second novel is all about the son’s struggle for intimacy with his distant father.

Sep 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

The Guardian

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It is uncanny that Hisham Matar's second novel should be published in this month of all months: the news seems intent on writing it a last chapter.

Mar 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

The Guardian

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As Nuri returns after many years to his father's flat in Cairo, to be looked after again by the family servants, sleep in his father's bed, work in his study, wear his watch, try on his clothes and wait for his return, we understand that it is not only the father who has disappeared, but the son ...

Feb 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

Dallas News

Fourteen-year-old Nuri el-Alfi learns from a newspaper article that his father, Kamal Pasha el-Alfi, was snatched from the bed in Geneva that he shared with a Swiss woman Nuri has never heard of.

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

Washington Independent Review of Books

A simple description in which Nuri admires the newly encountered Mona at a beach in Alexandria is positively electric: “She was pulling her ankle, arching her neck, the ridge of her spine pressing against the yellow strap” of her swimsuit.

Aug 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

About.com

Nuri el-Alfi's relationship with his father Kamal has bloomed into a quiet, mutual tolerance since his mother's death.

| Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

Scotsman.com

Her loss seems to silence his father, but two years later, whilst on holiday together at a resort near Alexandria, Nuri meets 26-year-old Mona.

Mar 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

Curious Book Fans

I read both novels at a time of increased interest here in the politics of the Middle East – where his first book was more overtly political, it focused on the impact of politics on personal and family life.

Jun 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

BookRack

Hisham Matar is well-qualified to write this book, born in America of Libyan parents he spent his childhood in Libya and Egypt, but took his degree in architecture in London.

May 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

Time Out Bangalore

Hisham Matar’s new novel is a spare and elegiac narrative about Nuri, a sensitive mama’s boy in Cairo with a father who is a distant but affirming presence.

Oct 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Anatomy of a Disappearance: A...

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