In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

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Synopsis

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Hisham Matar's Anatomy of a Disappearance.

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.
 

About Hisham Matar

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Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. His first novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It won six international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. It has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Matar lives in London and serves as an associate professor at Barnard College in New York City.
 
Published January 30, 2007 by The Dial Press. 258 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Country of Men

The New York Times

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A 9-year-old boy learns about betrayal in Hisham Matar’s first novel, set in 1979 Libya.

Mar 04 2007 | Read Full Review of In the Country of Men

The Guardian

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As for men, Suleiman has gained little understanding of their ways: 'It's a sign of madness, I know, to claim to know what is in another man's heart.'.

Jul 15 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Country of Men

The Guardian

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But he cannot be unaffected by his mother, who starts taking copious amounts of "medicine" - sold to her by the baker in brown paper bags from under the counter - each time her husband is away (engaged, as she knows, in subversive activities).

Jul 28 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Country of Men

Entertainment Weekly

In the Country of Men (2007) "I am recalling now that last summer before I was sent away," begins In the Country of Men , Hisham Matar's forceful debut.

Jan 26 2007 | Read Full Review of In the Country of Men

Bookmarks Magazine

ISBN: 0385340427 Times [UK] 5 of 5 Stars "In Hisham Matar’s extraordinary first novel, [the bildungsroman] becomes again what it was in David Copperfield and Jane Eyre, the universal cry of an innocent victim of institutional sadism.

Aug 07 2007 | Read Full Review of In the Country of Men

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