There's a blurb on the inside of the book jacket that refers to Matar as an Arabic Salman Rushdie. That feels like an adequate comparison, as this books seems to capture something about what it's like to be Arabic at the turn of the century. An excellent, excellent example of the power of postcolonialism in literature, extremely well-written though somewhat hard to relate to as an outsider.
Nuri's mother dies when he is very young, and his father soon remarries a young woman named Mona. Nuri has an odd sort of crush on Mona and the arrangement never feels quite comfortable to him. While vacationing in Europe, Nuri's father disappears, the apparent victim of a politically-charged kidnapping. Nuri grows into a man while standing on shaky feet, never quite fitting in peers at his England boarding school. A lovely examination of the struggles to find oneself in an ever-changing world.