A Month in Siena

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

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.

Critics Review

  • An intensely moving book, at once an affirmation of life’s quiet dignities in the face of loss and a portrait of a city that comes to stand for all cities

    The Economist
  • This slim, beautifully produced book, sparkles with brilliant observations on art and architecture, friendship and loss. 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

    PD Smith, Guardian
  • This book tells us much about the extraordinary power of art to inspire

    Literary Review
  • What a jewel this is, driven by desire, grief, yearning loss, illuminated by hope, the kindness of strangers continually making tribute to the delicacy and grace of the Arab home the author lost so many years ago

    Peter Carey, The Australian, Books of the Year
  • A fluid series of meditations on the big questions of life, on love, faith, time and on the nature and purpose of art, the influence of architecture and, most important of all to this author, grief, mourning and memory

    Spectator
  • Mingles insightful and often moving art history with frank personal recollection in a way that reminds us of the communality we share not only with our contemporaries, but with all historical epochs. I can think of no better expression of the humane than this economical, modest, yet altogether breathtaking book

    New Statesman

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