This beautifully slim volume is at once so many things – travel writing, art history, a meditation on grief and a celebration of life – and yet retains a simple calm, as if we are with Hisham Matar in the galleries and basilicas of Siena ourselves. – James, Daunt Books Belsize Park
“Everybody should get to spend a month with Mr Matar, looking at paintings”
– Zadie Smith
“This book tells us much about the extraordinary power of art to inspire”
– Literary Review
Shortly after completing his searing work of non-fiction, The Return, Hisham Matar set off for Siena, a city he had never visited before. His plan was to see the paintings of the Sienese school, to immerse himself in the work of artists he admired perhaps above all others. This month in Siena would be an extraordinary period in the life of this writer: an immersion in art, a consideration of grief and violence, an intimate encounter with the city and its inhabitants.
Hisham Matar’s short book is the story of how art can console and disturb in equal measure. It is a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and the human condition.
“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.” – The Guardian
“[T]here 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
“Matar is a master of pellucid statement that seems simple yet is exactly right.” – Evening Standard