The Zahir is a novel that explores love and a search for identity, a search of discovery. It revolves around a bestselling novelist. His wife, Esther, suddenly disappears, and no trace of her is to be found.
The writer becomes obsessed with finding her, or what happened to her. He wants to find the reason for her disappearance. He meets a friend of his wife, Mikhail. He learns that his wife had left of her own accord. She had left in search of peace, to understand herself and where she stood in life.
After learning this, the idea of finding his wife becomes an obsession with the protagonist. It is a Zahir, an Arabic word meaning something that cannot be overlooked or ignored. He goes in search of his wife, to find her, to find the reasons for her leaving him.
The trail leads him from France to Spain to Croatia to Central Asia. On the way, he gradually realizes that in order to find his wife, to understand her, he must first understand himself. He realizes that her problems in their relationship, in their life together, was the main reason for her disappearance.