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In the Country of Men (2006)

by Hisham Matar

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1655912,854 (3.72)183
Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman's days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father's constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother's increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn't he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie? Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand-where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father's cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend's father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television.In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare. But above all, it is a debut of rare insight and literary grace.… (more)
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» See also 183 mentions

English (53)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Greek (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
"the Libyan Kite Runner"
  bhowell | Dec 12, 2020 |
Read 2018. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 14, 2020 |
Suleiman, a nine-year-old boy in Libya is ignorant of the threat brought about by the new regime of Muammar Gaddafi. He unwittingly supplies information to the secret police who are watching his home for the father they suspect of being a subversive. Matar has created an outstanding story from a difficult, brutal era in Libya, an era to which he was personally exposed. His writing is beautiful, as is apparent in the scene where the boy is feasting on mulberries, as well as the execution scene that is televised and with every minute detail noticed by the audience. This is a profound story that the reader will remember long after closing the book. ( )
  VivienneR | Mar 4, 2020 |
First Libyan Lit read. As a reader I loved it. It is told mostly from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy but written when he was 24, so it is more fleshed out than you might expect. The more world lit I read, the more pissed I get with fundamentalism and the patriarchy. Not “Oh good, it’s not just my country.” But it’s f’ed up everywhere. Good perspective of Libyan society, though.
  jveezer | Oct 12, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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I am recalling now that last summer before I was sent away.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Publishing History:
Viking UK hardcover edition published 2006
Dial Press hardcover edition / February 2007" T.p. verso.
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Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman's days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father's constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother's increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn't he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie? Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand-where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father's cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend's father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television.In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare. But above all, it is a debut of rare insight and literary grace.

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On a white-hot day in Tripoli, Libya, in the summer of 1979, nine-year-old Suleiman is shopping in the market square with his mother. His father is away on business - but Suleiman is sure he has just seen him, standing across the street in a pair of dark glasses. But whiy isn't he waving? And why doesn't he come over when he knows Suleiman's mother is falling apart?

Whispers and fears intensify around Suleiman: his best friend's father disappears and is next seen being interrogated on state television; a man parks his car outside the house every day and asks strange questions; and his mother frantically burns his father's books. As Suleiman begins to wonder whether his father has disappeared for good, it feels as if the wall of his home will break with the secrets that are being held within.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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