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
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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men.
Matar offers a searing vision of familial rupture and disintegration in his trenchant follow-up to In the Country of Men. Nuri el-Alfi is the son of Kamal Pasha el-Alfi, a powerful man (and exile from an unnamed Arab country that bears a striking resemblance to Matar's native Libya) living in Cairo and involved in "secret work." Two rough years after Nuri's mother dies, father and son meet Mona, a half-English, half-Arab woman, who, at 26 is 14 years older than Nuri and 15 years younger than Kamal. Nuri loves Mona madly, but of course she loves his father, and the two quickly marry and shuttle Nuri off to an English boarding school, where he pines for Mona and tries desperately to comprehend his father's personal history. Such understanding is made all the more impossible and necessary when, one wintry day, Kamal is abducted from the Geneva apartment of a woman neither Mona nor Nuri know. 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. Although some of the novel's revelations seem more expedient than illuminating, the work as a whole is an elegant and smart evocation of the complexities of filial love.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Anatomy of a Disappearance
A journey of reflection
This is a wonderfully written narrative! The story Pasha and his life was magical and transformative. I felt as though I felt what he felt when he felt it. A must read.
This is a masterpiece