A quick read in large print! Oh the Joy! After wading through The Famished Road, this one was a walk in the park. A clearly etched story-line told in straightforward prose, it was an easy, refreshing read.
As the title suggests, it’s primarily about a disappearance – a father who disappears under mysterious circumstances, and how his young son deals with everything that follows. It is however also a coming of age story, and since I don’t want to reveal the plot, I’ll leave you to read for yourself how the young Nuri deals with love, loss, friendship and angst. Matar’s prose is subtle where Okri’s was flamboyant and for me that’s a welcome change 🙂 It suits the story too and helps create an aura of mystery around characters who otherwise might have been ordinary. The story is set in Egypt and the family in question are in exile from Libya, Matar’s home country.
Where Matar excels is in describing the young Nuri – his emotions, his reactions, his petty jealousies, his changing moods and his relationships with his parents and other adults around him. We get to know him well and he is like any other child, fluctuating from intensely likeable to incredibly annoying! Matar is tender, gentle and subtle and says a lot through what he leaves unsaid. Where I was mildly disappointed was in the actual mystery bit – I would have preferred a more deeply layered narrative, more details, more specifics…so the ambiguity that lends atmosphere elsewhere, irritates me in this regard, but that’s just me.
All in all a satisfactory read that makes me want to read the author’s debut novel, In The Country of Men which was short-listed for the Booker in 2006. From what I’ve read, it seems mysterious fathers is a recurring theme in his books! How often one book leads to another 🙂
Currently Reading: A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving.
- Book Review – In the country of men by Hashim Matar (thelazyengine.wordpress.com)