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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Matar's debut is the moving story of nine-year-old Suleiman, a resident of Qaddafi's Libya in the late 1970s. Suleiman's father has a problem: His name is on a list of people the Revolutionary Committee wants to interrogate. But when he is supposedly away on business, Suleiman sees him in town, albeit disguised. Shortly thereafter, Suleiman's mother collects all of his father's books for burning, their next-door neighbor is abducted and interrogated on TV, and a stranger sits in a parked car, watching Suleiman's house.
The uncertainty of Suleiman's world is most acute in his relationship with his mother and the toll her mysterious "illness" takes on her. Her behavior is unpredictable -- one minute she's asleep in her room, the next, she's animated and whispers dark secrets to her only son. Such instability affects Suleiman in disturbing ways, and he finds himself capable of a shocking level of cruelty and betrayal.
Matar's writing is succinct, filled with the incongruous details a child would notice, and describes horrific events with an innocent's lack of judgment. In the Country of Men, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is stunningly claustrophic: a novel that captures the overwhelming feelings of a lonely, vulnerable child yet is filled with a rare vision of a troubled time and country. (Spring 2007 Selection)