The story sets off with a twelve year old boy named Nuri, whose mother just died, leaving Nuri in the care of his maid and his distant father, who was once an high official in the Libyan government and is against the Gadhafi forces.
While on vacation, Nuri notices a beautiful woman in a yellow swim suit sitting at the side of the pool cleaning her foot, walking over to her, Nuri begins to clean her foot and sets in motion a future he has no control over.
Using Nuri's adolescent enamour of her, Mona manipulates Nuri's father into marrying her. As soon as they are married, Mona sets Nuri up to come upon her while she is showering and convinces Nuri's dad to ship him off to boarding school. Against his father's wishes, he sends Nuri away.
At school, Nuri learns about himself and his family and the history that surrounds them all. Then Kamal Pasha, Nuri's dad, disappears and Nuri is left with a step-mother he doesn't like while the events of his father's past unfolds and we learn how his actions have helped to shape Nuri's future.
I found the "memoir" to be an easy read, it could be easily read in one afternoon. I didn't get the feeling that it was a memoir, more like a work of fiction about an pubescent young man and the women who help steer his life. I wasn't impressed with his stalking Mona on numerous occasions, his vying for her attention with his father was equally disturbing to read. I thought Nuri to be a rather unlikeable boy who didn't seem to have much of a backbone and perverted thoughts about the women in his life. There was no depth in Nuri's character and I couldn't find any relation to him at all.
I didn't have the opportunity to read Hisham Matar's prequel to this novel, and it may have helped with some of the back story, 'Anatomy of a Disappearance' left me with more questions than answers as I found the plot to be spasmodic and irregular, the characters apathetic and obstinate and the dialogue devoid of emotion.
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?
** Disclosure: I did not accept any compensation from the sponsors other than review copies, my views are my own, reviewed by me..as I see it~!! **