Anatomy of a Disappearance

Viking, 2011

In Egypt, Nuri, a teenage boy, falls in love with Mona—the woman his father will marry. Consumed with longing, Nuri wants to get his father out of the way and take his place in Mona's heart.

But when his father disappears, Nuri regrets what he wished for. Alone, he and Mona search desperately for the man they both love, only for Nuri to discover a silence he cannot break and unimaginable secrets his father never wanted him to know.


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Praise for Anatomy of a Disappearance

“A fable of loss, and an often troubling meditation on fathers and sons. Matar is writing from the heart.” — Observer

“This beautiful, subtle novel, like the lives of its characters, repays many readings.”— Helen Dunmore, The Times

“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

“A curiously engaging story that takes one into a world that seems as simultaneously remote and familiar as something in a dream.” — Michael Frayn

“Hisham Matar is a master of the evocative; he creates his effects, on the page and on our nervous system with the fewest and most telling words. I was spellbound.” — Ahdaf Soueif

“Submerged grief gives this fine novel the mythic inexorability of Greek tragedy.” — The Economist

“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


Selected Reviews

The Price of Opposition, New York Times Book Review, Robert F. Worth
Exile in CairoThe Times Literary Supplement, Chloe Campbell
"Anatomy of a Disappearance," The Observer, Tim Adams
Absence and LongingThe Guardian, Hermione Lee
The Changing State of Libya Spins a TaleThe Independent, David Mattin
An Ever-Present AbsenceThe National, Luke Kennard



Dublin Literary Award Longlist, 2013
Arab American Book Award Shortlist, 2012
RSL Encore Award Shortlist, 2011


Named one of the best books of the year:

Chicago Tribune • The Daily Beast • The Independent • The Guardian • The Telegraph • The Toronto Sun • Irish Times

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