Love Thy Neighbor

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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?

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Editorial Reviews

Robert F. Worth
Like its predecessor, Anatomy of a Disappearance is studded with little jewels of perception, deft metaphors and details that illuminate character or set a scene.
—The New York Times Book Review
Ron Charles
Matar is an elegant writer…The resolution is too sudden and revelatory, but Anatomy of a Disappearance remains a haunting novel, exquisitely written and psychologically rich.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
Whereas Matar's debut, In the Country of Men (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize), focuses on political brutality, this much subtler novel only hints at violence. Again, though, it is told from a child's perspective, that of 11-year-old Nuri, who lives in exile in Cairo with his Arab father. A love triangle of sorts develops when the father marries a younger woman desired by the son. When the father goes missing, the son seeks answers and learns some surprising truths about his father's life. Nuri's relationship with his young stepmother, Mona, is the novel's most compelling element; there's plenty of tension as their connection changes over the years. The revelations in the final pages are compelling, too, with the book's evocative tone of loneliness and displacement. Some mysteries, however, such as the cause of Nuri's mother's death, are left unresolved, and the scenes set at Nuri's boarding school could be further developed. Still, this is an engrossing tale, made more so by the knowledge that the author's father, an anti-Gadhafi activist, also disappeared. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. [See Prepub Alert, 2/14/11.]—Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC
Kirkus Reviews

A boy grows into a man in the suffocating vacuum of his father's abrupt and unresolved vanishing.

Though his books might seem to echo current events, it is the weight of personal history that drives the novels of Libyan author Matar (In the Country of Men, 2007). In his Booker-shortlisted debut novel, he deftly fictionalized his own experience—the author's dissident father Jaballa Matar was ruthlessly kidnapped by Egyptian secret-service agents in 1990 and imprisoned in a Libyan prison at the order of Muammar Gaddafi. In his latest, Matar portrays an even more acute sense of loss by contrasting two parental losses with the complicated relationship between a boy and his young stepmother. The narrator, Nuri Pasha, gracefully relates his story from the age of 11 to the present day. His mother, a wisp of a woman, dies early, driving Nuri and his father, an exiled political activist, together. "After she passed away he and I came to resemble two flat-sharing bachelors kept together by circumstance or obligation," Nuri muses. Their world is thrown into upheaval when Nuri's father meets 24-year-old Mona, a stunning Arab woman of English descent. Closer in age to Nuri than less-than-fatherly Kamal, Mona becomes an obsession for both father and son, adding to Kamal's confusing, furtive behavior. One winter as Nuri and Mona spend time together in Montreux, they receive word that Kamal has been abducted from the bedside of a woman in Geneva. A lesser writer might suppose that Nuri and Mona would find comfort in their communal untethering, but Matar cautiously and evocatively explores the unique and terrifying world in which Nuri finds himself. "I felt guilty, too, as I continue to feel today, at having lost him, at not knowing how to find him or take his place. Every day I let my father down."

A son without closure writes sparingly and brilliantly about what it is to suffer loss without end.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611735154
  • Publisher: Center Point Large Print
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Series: Premier Romance Series
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber

Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. His first novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It won six international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. It has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Matar lives in London and serves as an associate professor at Barnard College in New York City.

Biography

Publishing did not come easy to self-described "creative speller" Debbie Macomber. When Macomber decided to follow her dreams of becoming a bestselling novelist, she had a lot of obstacles in her path. For starters, Macomber is dyslexic. On top of this, she had only a high school degree, four young children at home, and absolutely no connections in the publishing world. If there's one thing you can say about Debbie Macomber, however, it is that she does not give up. She rented a typewriter and started writing, determined to break into the world of romance fiction.

The years went on and the rejection letters piled up. Her family was living on a shoestring budget, and Debbie was beginning to think that her dreams of being a novelist might never be fulfilled. She began writing for magazines to earn some extra money, and she eventually saved up enough to attend a romance writer's conference with three hundred other aspiring novelists. The organizers of the conference picked ten manuscripts to review in a group critique session. Debbie was thrilled to learn that her manuscript would be one of the novels discussed.

Her excitement quickly faded when an editor from Harlequin tore her manuscript to pieces in front of the crowded room, evoking peals of laughter from the assembled writers. Afterwards, Macomber approached the editor and asked her what she could do to improve her novel. "Throw it away," the editor suggested.

Many writers would have given up right then and there, but not Macomber. The deeply religious Macomber took a lesson from Job and gathered strength from adversity. She returned home and mailed one last manuscript to Silhouette, a publisher of romance novels. "It cost $10 to mail it off," Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. "My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can't tell you what $10 was to us at that time."

It turned out to be the best $10 Macomber ever spent. In 1984, Silhouette published her novel, Heartsong. (Incidentally, although Heartsong was Macomber's first sale, she actually published another book, Starlight, before Heartsong went to print.) Heartsong went on to become the first romance novel to ever be reviewed in Publishers Weekly, and Macomber was finally on her way.

Today, Macomber is one of the most widely read authors in America. A regular on the New York Times bestseller charts, she is best known for her Cedar Cove novels, a heartwarming story sequence set in a small town in Washington state, and for her Knitting Books series, featuring a group of women who patronize a Seattle yarn store. In addition, her backlist of early romances, including several contemporary Westerns, has been reissued with great success.

Macomber has made a successful transition from conventional romance to the somewhat more flexible genre known as "women's fiction." "I was at a point in my life where I found it difficult to identify with a 25-year-old heroine," Macomber said in an interview with ContemporaryRomanceWriters.com. "I found that I wanted to write more about the friendships women share with each other." To judge from her avid, ever-increasing fan base, Debbie's readers heartily approve.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Macomber:

"I'm dyslexic, although they didn't have a word for it when I was in grade school. The teachers said I had 'word blindness.' I've always been a creative speller and never achieved good grades in school. I graduated from high school but didn't have the opportunity to attend college, so I did what young women my age did at the time -- I married. I was a teenager, and Wayne and I (now married nearly 37 years) had four children in five years."

"I'm a yarnaholic. That means I have more yarn stashed away than any one person could possibly use in three or four lifetimes. There's something inspiring about yarn that makes me feel I could never have enough. Often I'll go into my yarn room (yes, room!) and just hold skeins of yarn and dream about projects. It's a comforting thing to do."

"My office walls are covered with autographs of famous writers -- it's what my children call my ‘dead author wall.' I have signatures from Mark Twain, Earnest Hemingway, Jack London, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Pearl Buck, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to name a few."

"I'm morning person, and rip into the day with a half-mile swim (FYI: a half mile is a whole lot farther in the water than it is on land) at the local pool before I head into the office, arriving before eight. It takes me until nine or ten to read through all of the guest book entries from my web site and the mail before I go upstairs to the turret where I do my writing. Yes, I write in a turret -- is that romantic, or what? I started blogging last September and really enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my life with my readers. Once I'm home for the day, I cook dinner, trying out new recipes. Along with cooking, I also enjoy eating, especially when the meal is accompanied by a glass of good wine. Wayne and I take particular pleasure in sampling eastern Washington State wines (since we were both born and raised in that part of the state).

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    1. Hometown:
      Port Orchard, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yakima, Washington
    1. Education:
      Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest. Other times I can barely recall the exact features of his face and must bring out the photographs I keep in an old envelope in the drawer of my bedside table. There has not been a day since his sudden and mysterious vanishing that I have not been searching for him, looking in the most unlikely places. Everything and everyone, existence itself, has become an evocation, a possibility for resemblance. Perhaps this is what is meant by that brief and now almost archaic word: elegy.

I do not see him in the mirror but feel him adjusting, as if he were twisting within a shirt that nearly fits. My father has always been intimately mysterious even when he was present. I can almost imagine how it might have been coming to him as an equal, as a friend, but not quite.

×××

My father disappeared in 1972, at the beginning of my school Christmas holiday, when I was fourteen. Mona and I were staying at the Montreux Palace, taking breakfast— I with my large glass of bright orange juice, and she with her steaming black tea—on the terrace overlooking the steel-blue surface of Lake Geneva, at the other end of which, beyond the hills and the bending waters, lay the now vacant city of Geneva. I was watching the silent paragliders hover above the still lake, and she was paging through La Tribune de Genève, when suddenly her hand rose to her mouth and trembled.

A few minutes later we were aboard a train, hardly speaking, passing the newspaper back and forth.

We collected from the police station the few belongings that were left on the bedside table. When I unsealed the small plastic bag, along with the tobacco and the lighter flint, I smelled him. That same watch is now wrapped round my wrist, and even today, after all these years, when I press the underside of the leather strap against my nostrils I can detect a whiff of him.

×××

I wonder now how different my story would have been were Mona’s hands unbeautiful, her fingertips coarse.

I still, all of these years later, hear the same childish persistence, “I saw her first,” which bounced like a devil on my tongue whenever I caught one of Father’s claiming gestures: his fingers sinking into her hair, his hand landing on her skirted thigh with the absentmindedness of a man touching his earlobe in mid-sentence. He had taken to the Western habit of holding hands, kissing, embracing in public. But he could not fool me; like a bad actor, he seemed unsure of his steps. Whenever he would catch me watching him, he would look away and I swear I could see color in his cheeks. A dark tenderness rises in me now as I think how hard he had tried; how I yearn still for an easy sympathy with my father. Our relationship lacked what I have always believed possible, given time and perhaps after I had become a man, after he had seen me become a father: a kind of emotional eloquence and ease. But now the distances that had then governed our interactions and cut a quiet gap between us continue to shape him in my thoughts.

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