You must go: A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar

The Return (Pulitzer Prize Winner): Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between

A few years ago, I read this author’s earlier work, The Return, for a class that I was taking. It was truly an extraordinary book written by a writer of immense talent. The story of the author’s return to Libya and his quest (it really is one) to learn more about his father, the book was moving and thought provoking. As soon as I saw this title on NetGalley, I so hoped that I would be provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my review.

So, here I am highly recommending this book to you. It tells the story of how Matar, following The Return, planned a trip to Sienna. For reasons that he describes, the work of painters from this region were important to him. He almost did not make it. Luckily for the reader, he did.

Matar writes about where he stayed and his experience of the paintings that he came to see. It is a wonderful book by a writer with fluid grace. A couple of quotes to give you an idea.

On a bad plane ride:

I remember thinking I did not mind dying-that it would have to come at some point-but that I was not quite ready yet, that dying now would be a waste, given how much time I had spent learning how to live.

On the school of painting:

They believe that what we share is more than what sets us apart. The Sienna School is hopeful but also flattering…

By challenging the imagination they nudge our perception a little and, for an instant at least, the world is remade.

I highly recommend this book. It is special. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.

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