Hari Kunzru: With Anatomy of a Disappearance, what came first? Are you the kind of writer who will be very programmatic and sit down and say, “What I want is to do is to write a bizarre, tense love triangle between a fourteen-year-old boy, his father and stepmother,” or is it something else that happens?
Hisham Matar: I start with very little. The weaker the thread, the more excited I get. So if I start with a gesture, or in this case I started with a feeling, for Nuri. I mean if Nuri were to walk in here I probably wouldn’t recognize him.
Hari Kunzru: Physically, you mean.
Hisham Matar: Meaning I don’t know how he looks. I know that he’s tall and dark but I don’t know much beyond that. But I had this deep feeling for him. I knew what it would be like to be sitting next to him. You walk, you rush to a concert, at the last moment you find your seat, the lights go down, you didn’t see the person next to you and you feel it’s too rude to sort of look at them. But you have a sense of how the music is affecting them, or sometimes they might hum or they might sigh at a certain moment and you think, Ah, I didn’t expect you to be affected by that particular phrase in the music. So that’s sort of what I felt for him, and I carried this around for a year.” —Hari Kunzru interviews Hisham Matar, ”Libya’s Reluctant Spokesman” Guernica Magazine (Oct. 2011)
“I found very many islands, inhabited by numberless people, all of which I took possession without opposition in the name of our most fortunate king by making formal proclamation and raising standards.”
—Christopher Columbus, proving once again that colonization is little more than the cunning use of flags.
Aboard the Nadir, just as ringingly foretold in the brochure’s climactic p. 23, I get to do (in gold): ‘…something you haven’t done in a long, long time: Absolutely nothing.’
How long has it been since you did absolutely nothing? I know exactly how long it’s been for me. I know how long it’s been since I had every need met choicelessly from someplace outside me, without my having to ask or even acknowledge that I needed. And that time I was floating, too, and the fluid was salty, and warm but not too-, and if I was conscious at all I’m sure I felt dreadless, and was having a really good time, and would have sent postcards to everyone wishing they were here.” —
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, - David Foster Wallace (1995)
[Aboard the Nadir, 7NC Luxury Cruise]