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Anatomy of a Disappearance

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  2,492 ratings  ·  410 reviews
Nuri is born into exile, the son of worldly parents who've fled their Arab country in the wake of a revolution. After his mother's death, Nuri and his dashing father live a life of strange emptiness in their Cairo apartment, with only the occasional hint
Hardcover, Large Print, 236 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Center Point (first published August 23rd 2011)
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,492 ratings  ·  410 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuri is eight when his mother dies. A few years later at a resort where he is staying with his father, he meets Mona, a woman eleven years his elder, who he develops a fascination with that last years. His father, an ex finance minister, whose life is in danger after Gaddafi takes control of his country, had already moved his family to Cairo. He will marry Mona to give the young Nuri a mother. He will eventually be disappeared, whereabouts unknown and Nuri will spend his life wondering what has ...more
Carol
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated with this spare yet elegantly written coming of age novel because so much of the story parallels the author, Hisham Matar’s own life. In this semi-autobiographical story, Nuri, a young boy of 14 years, loses his father (a diplomat and dissident living in political exile in Egypt) when he is suddenly abducted and “disappeared” by some unnamed foreign government. The novel recounts the next 10 years of Nuri’s life as he uncovers pieces of his father’s mysterious past and attempts ...more
Kwesi 章英狮
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, e-book, hisham-matar
My father is a quite type, you will always see him sitting in a sofa watching television or sitting in the near bench. He never cared of his surroundings or maybe I'm too heartless to share his feelings. I live with that kind of situation and never regret that I have a father like him. I lived closely with my mom and siblings and if you ask me, I used to having my mom at my side than sitting with my quite father.

Anatomy of Disappearance is written by Hisham Matar, a Libyan author and shortlisted
...more
Ursula
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Is it possible to be enthralled by the writing and yet left wanting by the story of a book? Of course it is - and that's what happened for me with Anatomy of a Disappearance. The story centers around Nuri, who is twelve years old when his mother dies. Within a year, his father has remarried a younger woman, Mona. Nuri has complicated feelings about that, at least partially related to his jealousy of his father because of his own crush on Mona. Everything changes, though, when Nuri's father is ab ...more
رحاب
Apr 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I’m really charmed. On every page I was torn between turning the page quickly to know what happens next, and slowing down so that I can enjoy it for longer. The language is so intense, so condensed (distilled is a better description), yet so elegant.
Chad Sayban
When a young arab boy, Nuri, loses his mother to illness, he and his dissident father must emotionally support each other in their apartment in Cairo. However, bikini-clad Mona arrives in their lives, and Nuri must watch as his advances go unnoticed and she falls in love with his father. But when Nuri’s father disappears under mysterious circumstances, Nuri must come to grips with his relationships with his father and Mona while trying to find his own place in the world.

Hisham Matar does a good
...more
Dolly
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
This book offers a semi-autobiographical glimpse into the life of an aristocratic family who must flee their country and a son, named Nuri, who must cope with the death of his mother and the disappearance of his father.

Even though Nuri's life is a comfortable one, buoyed by the wealth of his father, the circumstances surrounding his father's political activities, infidelities, and fear of persecution is a mystery to the young man.

It is not until he has grown up that he is finally able to discov
...more
Gina Roitman
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest.”
With this tender opening sentence, Hisham Matar begins to weave a subtle pattern of absence and loss that defines the emotional territory of Anatomy of a Disappearance, his second novel.
The narrator of this beautifully paced story is Nuri el-Alfi, who at 14 loses his father when he disappears from an apartment in Geneva, likely the victim of a political kidnapping. The loss is unbearable yet even before his fa
...more
Ellie
Anatomy of a Disappearance: A Novel by Hisham Matar is a fragile dream of a novel, a sliver of memories from the childhood of the narrator. At first, it focuses on the death of his mother and the woman he and his father meet at a hotel, Mona. Both the 14 year old boy and his father fall in love with the woman but the father marries her and soon the boy is sent away from Egypt, his home, to a boarding school in England.

But when his father is kidnapped from Switzerland and is not heard of again, w
...more
Trish
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is a novel, but reads like a memoir. Judging from the short biography about the author on Goodreads, one must assume Matar is “writing what he knows,” since the thread of the novel closely follows the arc of his life. In real life his father, a former Libyan government minister, is persecuted by the Gaddafi regime, and is subsequently kidnapped. In the novel, we know the family is in exile in Cairo, but we never learn the country from which they fled.

Matar is extravagantly talented:
...more
Siria
Nuri is 12 when his mother dies, 14 when his father is kidnapped by political opponents and probably murdered; he spends the next few years shuffling between his English boarding school and the apartment of his beautiful young step-mother, Mona, on whom he is uncomfortably fixated. I liked the prose of Anatomy of a Disappearance—there were one or two of the more lyrical lines which didn't quite work for me, but otherwise Matar's style manages to be spare while also being descriptive and suggesti ...more
Kim
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This book has an interesting cover! I am excited to have won it through First Reads and am looking forward to reading it.
Balu
This book opens with the first sentence which explains a complex father-son relationship
"There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest”

Hisham Matar chooses to write from the view point of a young boy while discussing grown up themes. It deals with the story of Nuri el-Alfi, a fourteen year old boy whose mother is dead and whose father, an important political figure living in exile from an unnamed country and the journey of its political subversion, dictator
...more
Joseph
The demarcation line between "classic literary themes" and "plain old clichés" is sometimes so tenuous as to be practically non-existent. This is what I found myself thinking upon finishing "Anatomy of a Disappearance".

The protagonist of Hisham Matar's second novel (after the Booker-nominated In the Country of Men) is Nuri, the son of an ex-minister of an unnamed Middle Eastern country who has lived in exile in Paris and then Egypt ever since that country's "beloved king" was deposed in the lat
...more
Samah Abugharsa
I really like Mata'r first novel, the Country of Men. for this reason, I decided to read his second novel. I can say that I enjoyed the story and the language. It was delicately written and with true passion. However, the plot is quite boring. I believe that there was some room for the author to add unexpected events, some surprising ending. Overall, I enjoyed reading it.
Ron Charles
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Anatomy of a Disappearance” is about a boy of privilege set adrift by political intrigue. Libyan writer Hisham Matar won international acclaim with his poetic first novel, “In the Country of Men,” and once again he draws on his family’s terror under the reign of Moammar Gaddafi to tell the harrowing tale of a son deprived of his parents. The tone here is melancholy and steeped in regret as the narrator recalls himself as a lonely 12-year-old, grieving for the death of his mother, pining for his ...more
Karen Skinner
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites of 2011! As the survivor of a "disapearance" perhaps this tale resonated with me in a particular way, but beyond that, this all at once precise, yet gentle writing style teases the reader into carrying the book everywhere, anxious for the chance to read another page, another chapter. Matar's actual story is compelling, but his style even more so. Maybe this is a bit of a political espionage mystery, maybe it is an exploration of an eastern culture, but certainly it is a comin ...more
Loraine
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing, nothing less. Complicated and full, fiction that feels true, nothing contrived or forced. Beautifully written, grabbed me right at the start and never let go. Altogether a very satisfying, memorable read. I recommend it highly.
I've decided not to hold back on my stars. When a book is wonderful, it is just plain wonderful and deserves all 5 stars.
Esther Kofod
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Matar's style of writing in this book and his other previous works rate 5-stars, but this story was weak.
David Samuel
This novel seems to condone the patriarchal view of the world that it is set in, what with the unfaithful and reticent father, the women used and lodged in convenient compartments, the father glorified despite his sins because of one act of bravery, the main protagonist not knowing how to be a man on his own terms. Perhaps this is, after all, the point.

Still, the prose is jittery and with a few, intermittent poetic moods. The opening page is the highlight of the entire novel, as following that,
...more
William
So many of this short novel's themes are shared by the novels of John Banville: the distortions of youthful memory, the morphing circle of family, the construction of an identity that is fused of half-definitions, half-memories, hopes that are longings, and longings without hope -- the sum revealing the emptiness around which its emotional mass is built. Matar's writing is unglamourous and bare, but his simple recounting paints with unflinching -- even unnoted -- emotional truth, leaving the rea ...more
Gina
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful haunting story set in Cairo. Exiles from Libya fleeing the military coup, teenaged Nuri is living with his father after the death of his mother. Holidaying by the sea, Nuri meets Mona, a twenty something from London of mixed Arab English parentage. She becomes Nuri’s stepmother. The story unfolds around the father’s disappearance at the hands of Libya’s military dictatorship. A beautiful, elegant, page turning story of Nuri’s loss and loneliness, his attempt to get close to his fathe ...more
Afnan Aldimasi
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I picked it up two years ago, but we didn't click until yesterday. I picked it up and found myself 50 pages into the novel. I read nonstop until it came to an end. A few reasons I seem to have enjoyed it are the descriptive language, the plot twist and the engaging narration.
Sue
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes I really did read this in a day. I loved this book. Need to read it again. And I need a friend to read it because once you finish reading it you are going to want to talk about it
Kitaplarvesozleri
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoriler
BAYILDIM 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noe Lemuya
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kamal pasha is a man with many secrets at first i thought all his troubles were to do with politics but then a new side of him comes to light when he dissapears .its an interesting story with complicated relationships portrayed
Lorenzo Berardi
This novel found me on a rainy morning spent wandering around a seaside town in Kent.
Now, how a proofreader only copy of Anatomy of a Disappearance popped up onto the shelves of a charity shop in a backwater place named Ramsgate would be interesting to discover.

Anyways, my copy of this novel doesn't have either the name of the author nor the title of the book printed on its cover, but only a black and white photo of a curly-haired woman wrapped up in a towel. You cannot see the face of the woman
...more
Ali
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Hisham Matar’s first novel “In the country of Men” – a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It has been a long old wait for this one – but it has been worth it.

I have seen some great reviews of this novel – but feel I can’t really do it justice. How can I put across the absolute pathos and beauty of this novel?

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 abil
...more
Benjamin Chandler
I was disappointed by this book, but I'm not entirely sure it's the book's fault. I'd placed it on my think-about-it list and kind of forgot why I was even interested in it. I found it later and thought it might be a nice break from the heady novellas I'd been reading. It was a quick read—easy to follow and digest. I don't know why Hisham Matar has received so much praise in the past, because his prose certainly didn't dazzle.

The book moves in fits. Every fifty pages or so, something new happens
...more
Keija
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Matar's second novel lacks the visceral rawness of his outstanding first book, IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN. While the missing father is again central to Matar's narrative (his own father was disappeared by Qaddafi's men), this time, there was no desperation to the son's reaction, as in COUNTRY. The narrator maintains an emotional distance from the tragic central event of the book--his father's kidnapping by loyalists from the home country--and so the book lacks punch and urgency. I longed for more of ...more
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Great African Reads: Matar: Anatomy of a Disappearance | (CL) first read: May 2012 6 91 Jan 13, 2018 05:35PM  
Naima 1 13 Apr 29, 2012 10:17AM  

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Hisham Matar was born in New York City, where his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations. When he was three years old, his family went back to Tripoli, Libya, where he spent his early childhood. Due to political persecutions by the Ghaddafi regime, in 1979 his father was accused of being a reactionary to the Libyan revolutionary regime and was forced to flee the country ...more
“I wanted to wear her as you would a piece of clothing, to fold into her ribs, be a stone in her mouth.” 16 likes
“I wanted this world to still. I wanted to fix it and be fixed within it. But everything was on the move, the clouds, the wind...” 10 likes
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