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Anatomy of a Disappearance

Posted on Sunday, August 21, 2011 in Misc

I was catching up on some old NPR podcasts this weekend and happened to catch an interview with Hisham Matar, a Libyan-American author who now lives in London. Inspired by his own experiences, Matar has written a fiction novel called Anatomy of a Disappearance that describes the effects of a father’s disappearance on his son. Matar’s own father, a Libyan dissident, was imprisoned in 1990 then disappeared somewhere in the prison system and the family still doesn’t know whether he’s alive or dead.

In listening to his story, I was reminded of the many missing people we hear about every day.

I think we all inherently understand the need for “closure” — even if the outcome is not the one we hoped for.   But I have never heard anyone put it as eloquently as Mr. Matar:

“When somebody dies, it’s final, or at least to us it seems final.  But when somebody disappears, the possibility of them existing in the same moment, in the same day, the same year, under the same moon, under the same sun, is a very vivid possibility.  And what it does to the nature of the grief is uniquely different from the nature of the grief and longing when somebody dies.”

You can read more and hear the entire interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne here:  Hisham Matar on the Power of Libyan Fiction (NPR) .

You can see and hear Hisham Matar read from Anatomy of a Disappearance here: Hisham Matar reads from Anatomy of a Disappearance

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