Anatomy of a Disappearance - Hisham Matar
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: 2011
Genre: Autobiographical (I think!)
Setting: Egypt | London
My Rating: 2 Stars
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.
I am having such bad luck with my book picks this year; I should probably give reading a break. I’ve only completely enjoyed maybe two or three books since January - most have me wanting to send them back to the bookshop or writer and ask for a refund!! #endofrant
We meet Nuri as a 12 year old boy who loses his mother from an undisclosed illness – the author did not see it fit to let us in on the cause. He has a complicated relationship with his father who re-marries a younger woman, Mona, who Nuri is completely enthralled by. This is cute and whatnot, but no so cute when 20 years later, Nuri is still confused by his feelings for Mona. Crushes are meant to be just that – crushes. That should end in about 5 mins!!
Nuri is jealous of his father and when he eventually disappears in unclear circumstances while on vacation in Geneva, Nuri has to come to terms with his father’s secret life in Geneva and his disappearances as well as his inappropriate feelings for Mona.
What I liked: This is an easy read. The font and the flow of the book is easy to read. If you have time, you can easily finish this in a couple of hours.
What I didn’t like: (this is a longer list) 1. I couldn’t help but feel like Nuri was speaking from a point of such privilege it became very difficult for me to identify with him or even empathise 2. The crush Nuri had on Mona lasted much longer than it needed to and it went nowhere. There was no point to it. 3. As much as Nuri tried to make us believe that he was really saddened by his father’s disappearance, I just wasn’t convinced. His life continued as if nothing happened. 4. The twist at the end with Nuri discovering that his biological mother was Naima was such an EPIC FAIL!!!!!! And quite unnecessary. I didn’t understand how it fit with the rest of the story. 5. Nothing was addressed in this book – Nuri’s father’s disappearance was not addressed. What happened to him? Who took him? Is he still alive? Honestly, what is the point of writing a book if there is no resolution or at least an attempt at a resolution?
I finished this book quite frustrated.