When Hisham Matar was 19 years old he came across the Sienese School of painting for the first time. In the year in which Matar’s life was shattered by the disappearance of his father the work of the great artists of Siena seemed to offer him a sense of hope. Over the years since then, Matar’s feelings towards these paintings would deepen and, as he says, ‘Siena began to occupy the sort of uneasy reverence the devout might feel towards Mecca or Rome or Jerusalem’. ‘A Month in Siena’ is the encounter, 25 years later, between the writer and the city he had worshipped from afar. It is a dazzling evocation of an extraordinary place and its effect on the writer’s life. It is an immersion in painting, a consideration of grief and a profoundly moving contemplation of the relationship between art and the human condition.