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Shortly after completing his searing work of non-fiction, The Return, Hisham Matar set off for Siena, a city he had never visited before. His plan was to see the paintings of the Sienese school, to immerse himself in the work of artists he admired perhaps above all others.
This month in Siena would be an extraordinary period in the life of this writer: an immersion in art, a consideration of grief and violence, an intimate encounter with the city and its inhabitants. Hisham Matar's short book is the story of how art can console and disturb in equal measure. It is a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and the human condition.