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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (926 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Hisham Matar Narrator: Steve West Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2011 ISBN: 9780307966773
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Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness that her strange 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 her, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. And their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear.

Nuri will, however, soon regret what he wished for. His father, long a dissident in exile from his homeland, is taken under mysterious circumstances. And, as the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered by events beyond their control, they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved.

Anatomy of a Disappearance
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 their absence shape the lives of those who are left?

From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Elegiac . . . [Hisham Matar] writes of a son’s longing for his lost father with heartbreaking acuity. Newsday

    Chicago Tribune • The Daily Beast • The Independent • The Guardian • The Telegraph • The Toronto Sun • Irish Times
  • For Western readers, what often seemed lacking [in the coverage of the Arab Spring] was an authentic interpreter and witness, someone who could speak across cultures and make us feel the abundant miseries that fueled the revolt.  No one plays this role, in my view, as powerfully, as Hisham Matar…Matar writes in English, in extraordinarily powerful and densely evocative prose: he seems uniquely poised to play the role of literary ambassador between two worlds… The New York Times
  • Mesmerizing. . . . The recent events that have lent topicality to this elegiac novel might easily have swamped a lesser work. Its strength rests in Matar's decision to focus on emotional rather than material details, proving that in art, at least, the personal can trump the political. Houston Chronicle
  • A haunting novel, exquisitely written and psychologically rich. Washington Post
  • [A] potent new novel . . . which moves among eerily silent interiors in London, Cairo, and Geneva to evoke the emotional vacuum that follows [a] father’s abduction. Vogue
  • Outstanding . . . with its stylistic echoes of Nabokov. The Irish Times
  • A searing vision of familial rupture and disintegration. . . .  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. . . . An elegant and smart evocation of the complexities of filial love. «Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • Two things stood out as I read Anatomy of a Disappearance. First, there was the quiet power of the language, and the author’s control of it. Second, there was Hisham Matar’s ability to tell a story that from the first sentence seems inevitable, yet is full of surprises. I was moved and very impressed. Roddy Doyle
  • Sculpted in a prose of clutter-free, classical precision . . . a pure demonstration of the strange alchemy of fiction. The Independent (U.K.)
  • A tenderly written novel with Shakespearean themes, it can be read as a deeply personal account of the losses that tyranny and exile produce. The Times Literary Supplement
  • Haunting in every sense . . . An absorbing novel that finds its eloquence in what is left unsaid. The Sunday Times (London)
  • Submerged grief gives this fine novel the mythic inexorability of Greek tragedy. The Economist
  • A fable of loss, and an often troubling meditation on fathers and sons . . . Hisham Matar is writing from the heart. The Guardian (London)

  • A son without closure writes sparingly and brilliantly about what it is to suffer loss without end. Kirkus Reviews
  • Eloquent . . . one of the most moving works based on a boy’s view of the world. Newsweek

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robin | 2/2/2014

    " I'm not really sure what the book was about - coming of age with an attractive, insecure, rather immoral stepmother? It didn't seem to be about what I thought it would be about (and why I bought the book)- the disappearance of a father who had been involved in the politics of the Arab world. Not much about the Arab world or politics or the father. That said, I finished the book becasue I wanted to know where it went and because it is well-written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry-ynne | 1/19/2014

    " really enjoyed this book...it provoked a lot of discussion at bookclub...about men and women and the arrangements we make around each other...the plight of the son...and the 'evil empire' at work in the background... funny story...but compelling really "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Isabel | 1/4/2014

    " I had to restrain myself from writing to her too often, especially because she rarely wrote back or responded with the speed and in the manner I had allowed myself to expect. Some people manage to escape the obligation a sincere letter places on them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marianne | 9/30/2013

    " What happened to Nuri's father? The reader never gets a full answer but we learn more about the secrets in Nuri's life as the book progresses. A good study of how we don't know as much as we think we do about the real life of the people we are closest to. A beautifully written book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane Metter | 8/2/2013

    " Really loved the minimalist prose - felt like I was living this experience - great characters, hugely credible plot - a disconcerting delight! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Philippa | 5/26/2013

    " Such a wonderful book, I'm interested in readers who have no knowledge of Arab or North African culture and what they thought of it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Trudi | 5/1/2013

    " It was okay - not a favorite of mine. Told from the perspective of Nuri whose father is abducted in 1972 when Nuri is a pre-teen. It is the story of Nuri and his relationship not only with his father but with the women in his father's life, including his father's second wife Mona. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia Geller | 1/25/2013

    " A compelling book about an Arab boy who loses his mother, his father disappears and he must make sense of the complication of a life lived beyond his awareness and his longing for the past and for the life he believed he had been living. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yoonmee | 6/3/2012

    " Elegant, haunting, and engaging story. Very highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mona Mahfouz | 1/2/2012

    " I can't put exactly my finger on why, but I immensely enjoyed this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dick | 10/22/2011

    " I thought you always knew where this book must be going, but the surprise was still there, which really reflects on how well it was written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marlene | 10/9/2011

    " Really lovely writing and story! And in light of what is going on in the politics of the Middle East, a very enlightening read. I want to read more by Matar. What beautiful prose! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Teal | 9/20/2011

    " The ending was unfufilling, but I guess that was expected. Full of loss.

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 9/14/2011

    " Loved it. Listened to it on my ipod...one of the best. Couldn't wait to get back in the car and get my ipod on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeniece | 9/11/2011

    " a spare, elegant book on loss and the complexities of love. "

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About the Author
Author Hisham Matar

Hisham Matar was born in 1970 in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo. His first novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Guardian First Book Award, and 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. He currently lives in London.

About the Narrator

Steve West, the winner of multiple Audiofile Earphones Awards for narration, is an actor of international standing. He is known for his appearances on London’s West End Stage in Mamma Mia!, contemporary plays, and Shakespearean classics. He has appeared in Hollywood movies and on television screens in the United States and the United Kingdom and performed for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. His work has also been screened at the Cannes International Film Festival.