Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anatomy of a Disappearance; Hisham Matar



Title: Anatomy of a Disappearance
Author:  Hisham Matar
Publication Year: 2011 
Publisher: Dial Press (Random House)
Edition: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: 12/10/2011 
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

"There are times when my father's absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest.  Other times I can barely recall the exact features of his face and must bring out the photographs I keep in the old drawer of my bedside table.  There has not been a day since his sudden and mysterious vanishing that I have not been searching for him, looking in the most unlikely places.  Everything and everyone, existence itself, has become an evocation, a possibility for resemblance. Perhaps this is what is meant by that brief and now almost archaic word: elegy."....so begins the semi-autobiographical novel by Hisham Matar, whose own father, a Libyan dissident was captured by Qaddafi's men and imprisoned. The story, in some ways was similar to the author's debut book, In the Country of Men, a story which I enjoyed. In that story, a young boy is trying to understand his father's secret activities and subsequent disappearance in a country experiencing political unrest.

In Anatomy of a Disappearance, Nuri is a fourteen-year old boy of privilege from an unidentified country. His life is about to change significantly when his mother dies, presumably of an overdose. Two years later, Nuri and his father, spot a beautiful young girl on the beach. Nuri thinks she is beautiful, and so does his father. While Nuri is shipped off to boarding school, his father ends up marrying the beautiful Mona. This causes Nuri much sadness and resentment, he feels lonely and lost.  He silently wishes that his father, Kamal,  an advisor to the King, would just "disappear", and soon after he gets his silent wish --his father is abducted.

The novel is a somewhat quiet introspective story,  about the sadness that resolves from Nuri's unresolved loss, in this case the disappearance of Nuri's father.  I liked the flow of this novel, and the writing was vivid and descriptive as well. Specific details like ones about the beautiful Mona with her silky hair and yellow bikini stick with me even now.  The intro paragraph about a young sensitive boy's deep sense of loss, was particularly touching, especially sense he was never able to form a close relationship with his father prior to his disappearance. Even in the end Nuri never gives up hope that his father might return. The one thing I that left me wanting more was the fact we never really learn what happened to Nuri's mother or father.  Despite this, it is still a worthy read.

15 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this author nor of his first book. Your beautiful review has me wanting to start from the beginning and then add this one to my list!!

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  2. Books that leave you with more questions of answers usually aren't my cup of tea, but this book sounds worth the read. Great review. :)

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  3. I'm looking forward to reading this. I haven't read In the Country of Men either, but it's on my wishlist.

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  4. This sounds so sad - I think I'd have to be in the right mood to read it.

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  5. Your review gives me the impression that the book is quite heavy. Sometimes that's the perfect thing. I think someone's mood might dictate how they reacted to this one. Thanks for your review.

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  6. Sounds like it has a similar tone to In the Country of Men....somber, but good.

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  7. What an interesting story. I wonder where does it take place and when. Sounds quite removed. Also, from your description, Nuri must have great conflicts inside him since he was angry about his father and now his father has disappeared. Nuri must be torn between gratification and guilt?

    Arti

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  8. I've heard of this author. Not been able to get to the books though.Sounds very good reading.

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  9. I loved this book. I didn't mind the fact that all the ends weren't all tied up - it means I can continue to think about what might have happened long after I finished the book.

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  10. It would bug me to not know what happens to the parents.

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  11. It sounds like this one is both longing and emotional, and I wouldn't mind getting a closer look into it. I am glad that you enjoyed it, and I don't think I would be bothered by the ambiguous ending. Sometimes I like that kind of thing :)

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  12. Sounds rather interesting. Great review!

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  13. A new author to me as well, I'll be certain to keep an eye out for this book, thanks for the review.

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  14. I guess the reader gets the same experience as the character in never knowing what happened to his parents.

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  15. Excellent review! I hadn't heard of this book before, either! It sounds really good.

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