A Month in Siena
FROM THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AND MAN BOOKER-SHORTLISTED AUTHOR
‘Sparkles with brilliant observations on art and architecture, friendship and loss’ Guardian
‘Everybody should get to spend a month with Mr. Matar, looking at paintings’ Zadie Smith, Wall Street Journal, Books of the Year
Matar was nineteen years old when his father was kidnapped. In the year following he found himself turning to art, particularly the great paintings of the Sienese School. They became a refuge and a way to think about the world outside the urgencies of the present.
A quarter of a century later, having found no trace of his father, Matar finally visits the birthplace of those paintings. A Month in Siena is the encounter between the writer and the city. It is an immersion in painting, a consideration of love, grief and a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and life.
‘A dazzling exploration of art’s impact on his life and writing, and a moving contemplation of grief’ Financial Times
‘I can think of no better expression of the humane than this economical, modest, yet altogether breathtaking book’ New Statesman, Books of the Year
‘Bewitching, intensely moving’ The Economist, Books of the Year
Bewitching . . . Meditating on art, history and the relationship between them, this is both a portrait of a city and an affirmation of life's quiet dignities in the face of loss * The Economist, Books of the Year * Everybody should get to spend a month with Mr. Matar, looking at paintings * Zadie Smith * An exquisite, deeply affecting book * Evening Standard * A dazzling exploration of art's impact on his life and writing, and a moving contemplation of grief * Financial Times * A thing of beauty and wisdom * Monocle * Hisham Matar has the quality all historians - of the world and the self - most need: he knows how to stand back and let the past speak * Hilary Mantel * A deeply moving, engrossing book. Written in elegant, concise prose, it is a remarkable mediation on life, loss, mourning, exile, friendship and the power of art * Wall Street Journal * A Month in Siena bears all the hallmarks of Matar's writing: it is exquisitely constructed and the use of language is precise and delicately nuanced without pretension. And there is a deceptive simplicity to his endeavour: to look at art. What emerges is an altogether more complex philosophical exploration of death, love, art, relationships and time * Financial Times * What interests him in this art is the human knowledge the painter is trying to convey. The description is exact and graceful, as Matar's prose tends to be * New York Times, 11 New Books We Recommend This Week * Hisham Matar is a brilliant narrative architect and prose stylist, his pared-down approach and measured pace a striking complement to the emotional tumult of his material * Wall Street Journal * Mingles insightful and often moving art history with frank personal recollection in a way that reminds us of the communality we share not only with our contemporaries, but with all historical epochs. I can think of no better expression of the humane than this economical, modest, yet altogether breathtaking book * New Statesman * A fluid series of meditations on the big questions of life, on love, faith, time and on the nature and purpose of art, the influence of architecture and, most important of all to this author, grief, mourning and memory * Spectator * What a jewel this is, driven by desire, grief, yearning loss, illuminated by hope, the kindness of strangers continually making tribute to the delicacy and grace of the Arab home the author lost so many years ago * Peter Carey, The Australian, Books of the Year * This book tells us much about the extraordinary power of art to inspire * Literary Review * This slim, beautifully produced book, sparkles with brilliant observations on art and architecture, friendship and loss. Matar's prose is exquisitely measured and precise - not unlike one of the paintings from the Sienese school that he has admired for so many years * PD Smith, Guardian * An intensely moving book, at once an affirmation of life's quiet dignities in the face of loss and a portrait of a city that comes to stand for all cities * The Economist *
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