Hisham Matar on his selection:
In 2016, when I finished writing my book The Return
, which chronicles my return to Libya after 33 years of not being able to go there for political reasons, and my failed search for my father, a Libyan political dissident who was imprisoned and made to disappear by the Qaddafi dictatorship, I went to Siena. I spent a month in that Tuscan city looking at paintings from the Sienese School, which covers the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. These paintings have interested me ever since I had first encountered them at the National Gallery in London, some quarter of a century before, when I was nineteen, the year my father was abducted. The time spent in Siena produced my latest book, A Month in Siena
, which is a record of my looking at the paintings, but also a mediation on loss, love, intimacy and art. It is also a book about solitude and its surprises. I wanted to read to you from a section that expresses this as well as the joys of the accidental social encounter. In a time where we are isolated and told, for good reasons, to be wary of the possibility of being contaminated by one another, I thought it fitting to share with you some of those common old joys of spontaneous and unexpected human encounters. And finally, because we are barred from travel, I wanted to take you away, to go travelling in the imagination together.
A Month in Siena at IndieBound
Intro and outro from "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0
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