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In the Country of Men
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In the Country of Men

3.4 15
by Hisham Matar
 

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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

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In the Country of Men 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
TheStephanieLoves More than 1 year ago
I'm normally not a fan of historical fiction, but as a world literature lover, I couldn't help but try this one. Even though it was a little difficult to get into, I am so, so glad I did. In the Country of Men is a gripping account, from a small boy's perspective, of Gaddafi's infamous terror regime. It shimmers in the triumphs and fumes in the horrors of the the Libyan revolution of 1979, and expertly depicts Libyan culture and customs—the entire "world full of men and the greed of men"—as well. I found this a shocking, affecting read, and be forewarned: this book hits hard and will leave bruises. There are a several difficult issues tackled in Suleiman's first-person narrative, each coated with a blasé haze of childish charm. The exterior ones among these, include gender inequality and societal persecution, but Hisham Matar dares to venture deeper as the story spins around the values of family, friendship, nationalism, and the definition of loyalty. He portrays in deliberate precision and indelicacy, the oppression of not only women, but also of humans and human rights; this is all poignant, truthful, and startlingly refreshing. Facets of the narrator's childhood make him the most vulnerable, and yet most potent character. Most of the other characters are shallow or, as with the central themes, influenced by Suleiman's innocence and lack of awareness, but they are nevertheless lyrically and memorably described. I'll admit this book was a bit slow for first half, but the second half blew me away. In the Country of Men is not the sort of book I'll soon forget. Hisham Matar has woven a brilliant novel on what it is to be family, what it means to grow up, and what it takes to be free, because they are all—the author claims—achievable aspirations... but only to few, in the land of men. Pros: Raw, uncensored // Stunning literary style with both graceful and repulsive notes // Fascinating perspective of Gaddafi's Libya // Impressive stylistically, historically, and culturally // Mesmerizing and haunting // Unforgettable Cons: Slow-moving start // Dry at times Verdict: Hisham Matar's literary debut glitters in the backdrop of 1979 Tripoli and lingers in the yearning mind. Every so often you pick up a book so resonating and so captive of emotional truth, that it sends shivers down your spine and leaves an ache in your chest. In the Country of Men is one of those books.  Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read; highly recommended. Source: Complimentary copy provided by TripFiction in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This very powerful and touching novel is not only revealing but also opens our minds to more questions, the most powerful of which is the problem of freedom in a land haunted by limited civil liberties and the strong man, a diseases that is still plaguing Africa today. From books like Union Moujik,Disciples of Fortune, Nervous Conditions, Wizard of the Crows, we get a vivid picture of living in societies that are not free.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is well written and very informative for those not familiar with the long reign of repression and terror in Libya. Another book, Perla, written about the Argentine disappeared from the viewpoint of one of the stolen babies also an excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, this is what I would call an incredible story. The author must have lived in Libya. He brings up things, like the television's pink flowers, that only an insider would be privy to. I really enjoyed it, but it made me sad and contemplating a world of violence and injustice. I like how it was told in the viewpoint of the young boy. It was refreshing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loves-to-readVA More than 1 year ago
I'm glad it was short, as it was a little depressing. I kept thinking of kite runner without the different story lines or the in depth characterizations. Not without merit though, as i underlined several thought provoking sentiments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Critically over hyped and pumped, this strange tale of Ghadafi's early regime narrated by a nine year old who is neither prescient not particularly intelligent let alone equipped with much perspective, this novel creates a fingernails up/down the blackboard tone rather than an ominousness the writer searches for. It alternates between the mawkish and irritation. Comparisons with "1984" and "Fahrenheit 451" are stretched. It never really achieves the level of madness, the refrain of the boy's alcoholic mother, or the allegorical horror and terror of Kafka or Orwell; or the "There is remedy" of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" let alone its poetic rendition. Might play well in a learn to read class for late bloomers especially in the propaganda arm of the whiny leftist liberal movement in our unhappily dumbed down self-esteem hawking public school system. However, the add-on of excerpts from Matar's "Anatomy of a Disappearance" after the novel ended promise a much finer narrative written far more carefully.