Five words from the blurb: boy, mother, dies, father, disappears
I have had a run of disappointing books recently and so I was craving something special. Anatomy of a Disappearance had everything I was looking for and so I’m pleased to report that my reading slump is now officially over.
The book grabbed my attention from the very first line:
The central character, Nuri, was a young boy when his mother died, but his father failed to adequately fill the gap created by her death. This book could be described as a coming-of-age story, showing the difficulties Nuri faced growing up without his mother, but it is so much more than that – there is a touching love story and compelling mystery contained in this book too.
The plot is further complicated by the fact that his father is a political activist in constant fear for his life. One day all their fears come true when he vanishes in the middle of the night. The book is based upon the author’s own experiences (Hisham Matar’s father was abducted by Egyptian secret service agents in 1990) and this creates a realistic narrative, filled with subtle emotion. It also gives an insight in the life of families living in limbo, not knowing if their loved ones are dead or alive.
Anatomy of a Disappearance is short and easy to read. I finished it in a single sitting, compelled to continue by the engaging plot. I was impressed by the number of different issues convincingly covered in such a small number of pages. The simplicity of the prose means that this book will have broad appeal, but it also has a subtle depth that will keep fans of literary fiction happy too.