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The Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda

What does it take to discover the truth? Betrayal? Deception? Risking one's own life? Omar Ouda did it all.

Vanished is a fictional story set against the political unrest in Palestine, following a young boy trying to find his father. The deeper he delves into his father's mysterious disappearance, the more he finds himself forced to make terrible choices, testing his loyalty to his country and his family. The book is also about friendship born out of difficult circumstances, presented here through the character of Ahmed who risks his life to help his friend in the quest to find his father.

Omar's journey is fictional; however, it describes real life in Palestine's Gaza Strip between 1981 and 2011. This period witnessed three major events that have shaped the current situation - the first Intifada, the Oslo Accords and the second Intifada. While politics provide an important background to the story, the novel does not aim to put forth any political arguments. Instead, it sheds light on what it is like for two young boys to lead an ordinary life in an extraordinary place often described as ‘hell on earth.'

Shortlisted - Palestine Book Awards 2015
Shortlisted by The Middle East Monitor for the MEMO Palestine Book Awards 2015.


'fast-paced and compelling' - MEMO Palestine Book Awards

'Vanished is an accomplished novel that, quietly and without didacticism, gets to the heart of the terrible sacrifices demanded of a people living in a state of permanent, unrelenting siege.' - The New Internationalist

'Mixing a thriller story with the reality of life in the Palestinian occupied territories. Vanished is a novel which can be enjoyed by a wide public, not only by people interested in the Arab world.' - Banipal Magazine

'Vanished is a recommended read and Masoud's is a sensitive and intelligent voice. It tells a story that could play out well on the screen.' - The Electronic Intifada

'...a nuanced chronicle of one of the world's most troubled regions.' - Qantara

'...rebellion and hope in print.' - Bookglow

‘Vanished takes the reader deep into Gazan society....constant twists, and the suspense is maintained until its final pages.' - The Tanjara 

'Masoud is skilful at building up suspense; he drops no early hints of what happened to Omar's father.' - The Jordan Times

'The twists and turns of Omar's journey through the novel leave no stone unturned.' - Full Stop

'It's hard to imagine how the characters in this book, like the residents of Gaza themselves, manage to lead normal lives in a very abnormal, besieged society.' - Times of Israel 

'There are many bittersweet references to the idea of loss and return; the lost country, the lost father. The resolution of those themes, when it comes, towards the end of the novel, is both startling and unexpected.' - Rebecca Sowray, Louder Than War


Size 145 x 215 mm
204 pages
Rimal Books, 2016
ISBN: 978 9963 715 13 8


Book Reviews

Customer Reviews

Based on 65 reviews
happy and painful moments and complex relationships

'Vanished' sparks interest from the get go. The mystery of a son on a search to find his father compels you to not put this book down. The story gives you a real insight into the political unrest and the suffering that Palestinians faced. The story is full of surprises, twists, friendships, happy and painful moments and complex relationships. A very emotional and thought provoking read, left me in tears at the end...Great story!.. Looking forward to Ahmed's next book.

G. Polley
The subject is better left alone is the message Omar gets

What happened to Omar Ouda's father Mustafa? That is the one question Omar asks over and over and over again. Is he dead? In an Israeli prison? No one will tell him. The subject is better left alone is the message Omar gets. But Omar will not give up, leading him into painful experiences that humiliate and terrify him. "Vanished": is unforgettable, the kind of novel that is read over and over again. I highly recommend it.

H. Wise
This is a totally original and absorbing page-turner

This is a totally original and absorbing page-turner. Set amid the besieged and bombed communities of Gaza, the author brings his own direct experience of life in Gaza to this gripping but ultimately heart-warming mystery-thriller.

Dagevos, M
Literature opens us to societal issues

To all lovers of literature ‘with a message' I can recommend this book. The story reflects a journey both through the adolescence of a boy and through the developments in Gaza. As many of us have no opportunity to visit this tormented area this book gives good insights into the daily life of the Gazan people.The author wrote the book in 2014 during the bloody Gaza wars remembering his own youth and expressing solidarity with his people. This book shows that literature offers a good opening to reflect upon societal issues which are otherwise too polarised and politicized. The position of people is never only black or white but the injustice can ruin lives and communities.

Josee Vaillancourt
This story gave me an emotional knowledge that makes me feel even closer to my beautiful friends....

I cried at the end....then again the next day when I was thinking about the ending. Powerful story. But I will not talk about it with my many friends in Gaza. When I tried with one of them, he found it too hard to remember how life is in his world. But this novel was a necessary read for me. The ending is so much in the survival spirit of all my Palestinian friends. This need to continue to smile and to joke around is so prevalent when I interact with them. How else can they survive... my knowledge of the situation used to be too intellectual. This story gave me an emotional knowledge that makes me feel even closer to my beautiful friends. Thank you for such a gift. A must read for whoever wishes to find out the non-political costs paid by any victim.

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