Anatomy of a Disappearance.
Hisham Matar wastes no time in laying the foundation for a profoundly moving story about the loss of a loved one and the psychological impact it has on those they leave behind.
"My father disappeared at the beginning of my school Christmas holiday, when I was fourteen", says Nuri. Matar's protagonist does not know if his father, who was abducted, is dead or alive.
Matar is a Libyan writer whose father was a political dissident and was critical of Al Gathafi's government. He was kidnapped in Egypt in 1990, when Matar was 20. If one mistakenly assumes that Anatomy of Disappearance is a semi-autobiographical work by the writer, whose debut was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, one could easily be forgiven.
Beyond the story of loss is the story of a young boy going through the rites of passage. When Nuri first sets eyes on Mona, while on holiday with his father, in Cairo, she has a profound impact on him and he quickly takes to her.
However, it is Nurfs father that Mona marries and soon a secret jealousy or his father builds up in the young boy, creating a rather uneasy relationship between all three--Mona, who is all too aware of what her presence does to the impressionable Nuri, his father who knows his son is fond of his wife, and Nuri, who keeps his secret guarded, or at least thinks he does until he is sent off to boarding school and confides in his room mate Alexei.
Nuri soon learns that what used to matter, Mona, is no longer of such significance without his father in his life.
Matar paints a vivid story that leaps at you from the pages. It is a poignant and timely book by a writer who understands the Libyan narrative.
By: Hisham Matar
Published by: Viking