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A Month in Siena
By (author): Hisham Matar
9780593129135 Hardcover English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs Oct 22, 2019
$36.00 CAD
Active 5.26 x 7.94 x 0.66 in 144 pages 16 COLOR PHOTOS THROUGHOUT Random House
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Return comes a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and life.

After finishing his powerful memoir The Return, Hisham Matar, seeking solace and pleasure, traveled to Siena, Italy. Always finding comfort and clarity in great art, Matar immersed himself in eight significant works from the Sienese School of painting, which flourished from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Artists whom he had admired throughout his life, such as Duccio and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, evoke earlier engagements he has had with works by Caravaggio and Poussin, and the personal experiences that surrounded those moments.

Complete with gorgeous full-color reproductions of the artworks, A Month in Siena is about what occurred between Matar, those paintings, and the city. That month would be an extraordinary period in Matar’s life: an exploration of how art can console and disturb in equal measure, as well as an intimate encounter with the city and its inhabitants. This is a gorgeous meditation on how centuries-old art can illuminate our own inner landscape—current relationships, long-lasting love, grief, intimacy, and solitude—and shed further light on the present world around us.

Story Locale: Siena, Italy

AUTHOR BACKSTORY: Since his days at university, Matar has been fascinated with the Sienese School of painting. The year he lost his father, when he was 20, Matar began to visit the National Gallery in London every day during his lunch break, spending the hour standing in front of a painting and studying it. Decades later, after writing his memoir The Return, about his father’s disapperance at the hands of the Qaddafi regime, he decided to revisit those artworks by spending a month in their city of origin: Siena, Italy. The entire time, he kept notes with the thought he would one day write about this experience, with the paintings and city becoming windows onto his shifting emotional and psychological landscape.

AWARD-WINNING AND CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED AUTHOR: Matar’s most recent book, The Return, won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and the Financial Times. His works have received widespread critical acclaim in outlets all over the world.

AUTHOR PLATFORM: Matar has appeared on Fresh Air and written pieces for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The London Review of Books, and the Financial Times.

FULL-COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT: This small, elegant, and beautifully designed book will feature full-color reproductions of the artworks examined by Matar. Also includes FULL-COLOR ENDPAPERS.

Hisham Matar is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the memoir The Return, which also received the PEN/Jean Stein Award, the Prix du Livre Etranger Inter & Le Journal du Dimanche (France), Geschwister-Scholl-Preis Winner (Germany), the Rathbones Folio Prize, and The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize and was selected as one of The New York Times’s top ten books of the year. His debut novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and The Guardian First Book Award, and won numerous international prizes, including the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and a Commonwealth First Book Award. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Independent, and The Guardian, among others. Matar’s work has been translated into thirty languages. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Born in New York City to Libyan parents, he spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo and has lived most of his adult life in London. Now he divides his time between London and New York.

Author Residence: London, UK

Author Hometown: New York, NY

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“As exquisitely structured as The Return, driven by desire, yearning, loss, illuminated by the kindness of strangers…A Month in Siena is a triumph.”—Peter Carey

“Exact and graceful… A Month in Siena gives us [Hisham] Matar turning his intense gaze on another landscape entirely…. It is arguing for the power of art to answer a longing to be ‘recognized,’ while bringing about the rediscovery of ‘our own powers of remembrance,’ a pastime that demands the closest possible attention.”The New York Times Book Review

“Matar is a master of pellucid statement that seems simple yet is exactly right…. He is equally eloquent about the paintings he loves…. This is an exquisite, deeply affecting book, one in which an experience of dislocation and loss is conveyed in prose that flows so clearly and gracefully it finds continuities and connections all the time.”Evening Standard

“A sweet, short mediation on art, grief, and life… A Month in Siena is a brilliant miniature, a fugue but also a release. Its intellectual and emotional depth is never forced, never exclusive. Concerning grief as much as art, it is a considered attempt to explain both, while allowing that nothing can be contained fully within a single book, painting, city, or life.”The Arts Desk

“Through meditations on mortality, loss, government, cruelty, the Black Death, the inclusive camaraderie of the Palio and Siena’s marketplace, Matar shares moments of refreshing solitude.”—BBC

“[A Month in Siena] tells us much about the extraordinary power of art to inspire…. But this book is about so much more than the medieval art of Siena.”Literary Review

“An exquisite reflection on the intersection of life and art.”RTÉ

“A quiet meditation on art and life…[a] thoughtful, sensitive extended essay about [Matar’s] visit to Siena, where he ruminates and reflects on paintings, faith, love, and his wife, Diana…a beautifully written, pensive, and restorative memoir.”Kirkus Reviews

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