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In the Country of Men

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  2,604 ratings  ·  434 reviews
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 bitternes...more
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by The Dial Press (first published January 1st 2001)
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Ahmed First, you have Najwa's family who betrayed her through forcing her marriage as young as 14. Also, Faraj betrayed his friend, Ustath Rashid when he…moreFirst, you have Najwa's family who betrayed her through forcing her marriage as young as 14. Also, Faraj betrayed his friend, Ustath Rashid when he told the revolutionary committee about him while the opposite is shown by Ustath Rashid ( loyalty ) as the name of Faraj comes across him but he replies saying "No" , no that he doesn't want to say that he knows him. Besides, there The protagonist, Suleiman betrays Kareem upon calling his father a "traitor" and revealing his little secret about a girl he liked at school. So basically, when you are trying to answer such a question, it's important to include what Matar is trying to show the reader about betrayal. Which is that betrayal can have not only immense effects on humans, but also long-lasting ones. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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okyrhoe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Khaire yazaed
في ليبيا حدثت ثورتان
ثوره ضد العقيد القذافي
!! وهذه الروايه
روايه صادقه ومن القلب وللقلب وصلت
المشاهد والأحداث والتاريخ الليبي
الذي يغلي على نار هادئه
أرض النفاق والأكاذيب
شجاعه الأب بمواجهه العنف البوليسي
وعدم الرضوخ للتهديدات
والثمن الذي دفعه مقابل صموده ودفاعه عن
مبادئه وإيمانه بالحريه والعداله
الروايه رغم قسوتها إلا أن ما يلطف أجوائها
هي قصها بلسان طفل
بريء ملائكي يرى ما يدور حوله
ويحكيه دون مواربه وخداع
تستحق القراءه أكثر من مره
وخصوصا ً أن الأجواء العامه والفضاء السياسي
الليبي بعد الثوره قد كشف وظهر على ا...more
Tea Jovanović
Kod nas je objavio Marso... Proverite zašto je ova knjiga podobijala tolike nagrade (ili bila u užem/širem izboru za nagrade)... Libija... Za ljubitelje "Lovca na zmajeve" ili "Jutra u Dženinu"... ili "Pitanja i odgovora" i "Belog tigra"...
Sue
From my blog:
written by Hisham Matar and published in February 2007 by The Dial Press. This is Matar's bio as written on the end flap:

Hisham Matar was born in 1970 in New York city to Libyan parents and spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo. He lives in London and is currently at work on his second novel. In the Country of Men will be published in twenty-two languages.

This was a difficult book to read, not because of the density of the writing - dense it was not - but because the characters...more
ala'
شاعرية جدا ، رغم جوها الكئيب ، كرهت المؤلف في لحظات معينة ، لأنه استدرج براءة الاطفال إلى عالم السياسة .. مشهد اعدام رشيد كان مؤلما جدا بالنسبة لي ، و همجيا جدا .. وددت لو أعرف ليبيا واحدا لأستفسر منه عن حقيقة الأمر .. - لكن لن أستغرب ما قرأت ما دام القذافي يحكمهم - ..
أحببت شاعريتها جدا ..
أحببت نجوى جدا .. جعلتني أستحضر نجوى منيف وجبرا في عالم بلا خرائط لا أعلم لماذا ، ربما هذا الجنون العشقي - لكنها مختلفة .. هي أيضا رضيت العبودية وآثرتها على الموت ..
----
جذبتني في الكتاب مقاطع لم أفكر فيها من ق...more
Soumen Daschoudhury
Betrayal. A stab in the back. If devoid of conscience, it is free of hurt; else you can never free yourself from the crushing ugly rock of repentance, of self pity.

Did little Suleiman, a mere nine year old child know that he was betraying the ones he loved the most, murdering the hopes of a rebellion, a fight for a cause, a secret mission, a revolution to eradicate another? Was there a realization, even a tiny bit of shame when he did so?

And for what, this heinous misdeed? It isn't easy for a...more
Margitte
The book is, once again, a narrative told by the people of a country, about their country for their country (and the world).

As communism is dying around the world, and the effects it had on people's lives are appearing more and more all over the planet, the reader is drawn into this story by the nine year old Suleima writing about his life in Libya and what happened to his nuclear family, the extended family, the neighbor and friends in 1979 during the regime of Mohammar Khadafi. His dad, Faraj,...more
Salma Hegab
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Some authors make a political statement with their stories, powerful because of the emotional connections we make as readers to the circumstances. In this case, and despite the multiple awards and award nominations, I felt the story was a thin veil over circumstances that the author wanted to talk about. The nine year old makes confusing decisions, isn't afraid when a normal child would be, leading to destruction around him. He felt emotionally distant. At the same time, the author ends up not g...more
Alshaimaa
أحببته باللغة العربية، رغم محاولتي العقيمة لقراءته بالانجليزية .شعرت بعروبته بطعم المعاني التي لا أعرف لها فهماً إلا بالعربية

في بلاد الرجال
قصة حلم بالجنة، وورق توت
قصة بعد جميل وأحلام وردية يحلمها حين يبعد عن أبيه، وقرب يجفله ويكرهه لحقيقة برودة ذلك القرب
قصته مع أم كان هو أميرها الصغير
قصة استيعاب طفل لعالم لايتكلم إلا بالألغاز

يجب أن تقتنى

من الكتاب
" أتعرفين ماما كم بذلت الملائكة من جهد، وكيف خاطرت بكل شيء لتمنحنا التوت
وكل ذلك لأنها أدركت كم ستكون الحياة قاسية علينا هنا في هذه الأرض
ليتك كنت معي هن...more
Nojood Alsudairi
It is nice to read this book in Arabic but if you can, read it in the language it was written in originaly; English. Reading the book in English gave it one more star. What amazes me is the development of the 9 year old character that took place in a small number of days. His adoration, love-hate and pitty relationship with his parents, especially his mom, is portrayed in a wonderful way. The struggle of the child between admiring the enemy and disliking him, at the same time, is shown in the vi...more
Ron
It is the summer of 1979 in Tripoli, Libya, and the narrator of this novel remembers a boyhood year in which his life is forever changed by the repressive regime of Col. Quaddafi's revolutionary government. Little aware of what is going on around him, the boy struggles to understand the strange behavior of his father, who as we learn is an educated businessman with democratic aspirations for his country. Left for long periods of time alone with his mother, the boy puzzles over signs of her growi...more
Jenni Van Huyssteen
WOW. Having lived in Libya and heard the stories of the horrors of life under Gaddafi from my Libyan friends, I was very keen to read this book about that life, as seen through the eyes of a child. Hisham Matar certainly did not disappoint. He tells the story simply, as a child of 9 would, sometimes not understanding what is actually going on under the surface of the life he is used to. He simply accepts that his father is a "businessman" who travels a lot, and that his mother often needs "medic...more
Marcy
The young son of two parents witnesses the abduction and public hanging of his next door neighbor, the father of his best friend. He also witnesses the arrest of his father. Both men were found to be treasonous against a regime of terror, the regime of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Suleiman spent days and nights, comforting his mother, and hating his mother, for the illness that took her over when her husband was not home. This illness, the reader soon discovers, is alcoholism. It is in this state t...more
Tinea
The narrator's mother tells him that Scheherazade, when the king finally allowed her a wish after 1,001 stories and she asked that he spare her, chose a life "of slavery" over death. But this whole book is about people choosing lives of slavery (to a husband, to a government, to an exile) rather than death. And the death we see, the lives that are lived, leave little evidence to judge if Suleiman's mother was right.

Obviously, I side with the revolutionaries and the girls who talk back to their f...more
Serene
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
yamami
تدور أحداث الرواية في ظلال الثورة الليبية لـ معمّر القذافي D :
بـ عقلٍ سئوول وعينيّ طفلٍ في التاسعة من عمره تتكشف صفحات الأحداث شيئاً فشيئا ..
حملة الاعتقالات التي طالت أولئك الذين يرفضون الثورة الليبية ويُطالبون بالديموقراطية ، ثم حبل المشنقة الذي بدوره يتكفل بـ قطف الرؤوس !..
الرواية مُتخمة بالتفاصيل والأحاسيس الإنسانية البحتة .
القلق ، الخوف ، الترقب ، الانتظار ، النزاع الذي يعتمل في النفس البشرية ، والكثير الكثير ..
لغة الكاتب جميلة ، راقني اسلوبه السردي ..
يعيب الرواية بعض الألفاظ البذيئة -على...more
Samar Barakat
Sadly, a quote from Francis Bacon comes to mind, that some books should only be sampled or some such thing. This book was quite dull. I started it with great expectations; it was the first novel I had read by a Libyan writer and with Libya constantly in the news, I thought its moment had come. It is also a book narrated from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy, and I was looking forward to some innocence, humour and charm. There was not much of that- the boy seemed at once too mature and too...more
Jessica
In the Country of Men takes place in Libya, in the 1970's. This is a time and place that I know very little about, but the scope of this novel is not very wide, and the narrator gives a full picture of his world. The narrator is nine-year-old Suleiman, describing the summer when his father's rejection of ruling government brings his family much pain. Suleiman understands very little of what is going on, and so as a reader who does not know very much about this time period, I also did not underst...more
Vera Marie
It has been difficult for me to comprehend the arrogant statements of the dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi. When he asserts, “The people LOVE me!” in the face of thousands of ill-armed, desperate rebels trying to depose him, I think he must be out of touch with reality.

Then I read In the Country of Men and I understood a little better. The novel, written by an ex-pat Libyan, Hisham Matar , tells the horrific story of people who live under conditions similar to Stalinist Russia. In public they...more
DubaiReader
Unanimous!

This was a rare event - a book club choice that everyone rated at between 4 and 5 stars. I think the only other book to achieve this recently was Hisham Matar's more recent book, Anatomy of a Disappearance. We are definitely fans of his work. Unfortunately he seems to take about 5 years to write each book.

Narrated by 9 year-old Suleiman, this novel perfectly describes a young boy's confusion when surrounded by oppression and its spin-offs, while not really understanding what he is seei...more
Matthew
Feb 04, 2008 Matthew rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who hate themselves, people who have never left their small towns
I really don't understand what all the hype's about. Yeah, he's a new writer. That's great. And, yeah, he's writing about the non-Western world for a Western audience. We sure love that. The only thing it doesn't have going for it is "by Jonathan Saffron Foer". Aside from this totally transparent and, ultimately, irrelevant context - which no doubt caused the critics heralding of it like tea kettles - this book sucks.

It's not enjoyable; it's not particularly readable or well-constructed; it's n...more
Lucinda
So this is the latest in a string of books I have read recently where the story is told from the perspective of a child (though somewhat confusingly, this is told back by an adult about a period in his childhood). At first I was totally impressed with this device for telling a story in a new and interesting way, but now it is starting to feel old.
This is a heartbreaking story with some really powerful and painful segments in the retelling of a young boy (only 9 years old) who experiences the ma...more
Karielle
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....more
Wendy
I loved this book. It reads like poetry. Yet, it describes the hell that exists in the life of a family because of oppressive government and religion. The narrator is a nine-year-old boy who is not so innocent. In fact he is somewhat on the sadistic side in his betrayals and brutality. Later in life when the narrator is in his 20's he writes about suffering an absence, "an ever-present absence, like an orphan not entirely certain of what he has missed or gained through his unchosen loss." Later:...more
Geoff
Suleiman is a nine year old in Qaddafi's post-coup Libya. His mother is a neurotic closet alcoholic and his somewhat absentee father is a quasi counter-revolutionary. Suleiman struggles to reconcile the half-truths and "better left unsaids" from his parents' relationship and his own friendships.

Suleiman copes through the family dynamic with confusion, anger, bitterness, and meanness. By the end of the book, Suleiman is 24 years old and has no better grasp on his life than when he was nine.

The au...more
أروى
تحكي هذه الرواية قصة ليبيا أيام الثورة واستلام القذافي للحكم..

القصة على لسان طفل صغير..وأجد ذلك يحسب للكاتب..فالقصص على لسان الأطفال دائماً تضع الكاتب في مأزق التعبير عن أفكار كبيرة بطريقة مناسبة من وجهة نظر طفل..

إلى حد كبير نجح الكاتب في ذلك..

مثلاً طوال الرواية كان يتحدث عن دواء أمه الذي يجعلها مريضة بعد تناوله ..

لم يشر أبداً إلى أن أمه كانت مدمنة كحول ولكن ذلك يفهم من السياق..

السرد كان مملاً نوعاًما..بدأت أفقد اهتمامي في منتصف الرواية ثم عادت الأحداث لتتسارع بشكل كبير في الجزء الأخير..

للسياسة...more
peter
Not bad -- similar in subject but a hell of a lot better than that contrived, unconvincing best selling rubbish, The Kite Runner. It's a story about a boy growing in Libya in the midst of feeble efforts to mount political opposition to the regime. As his father and friends attempt to meet, read "subversive" literature about democracy, and so forth, his mother, forced early into an arid marriage drinks illegally and self-demeaningly, and the boy learns some of the debased, treacherous ways of the...more
Mary Soderstrom
In the Country of Men: Political Novel That Maybe Isn't on Target
There's a bit of confusion in the news today about who is/will be the Prime Minister of Libya. The BBC reports that Ahmed Maitig was sworn in, but apparently did not have the 121 votes necessary to win the job. The vote by parlementarians had been disrupted last week when gunmen surged into the assembly chamber, and the next vote was not recorded properly. Nevertheless CNN reports that Maitig has been confirmed as prime minister.

T...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 25, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Booker Short List
I liked this overall--with a mild kept-reading-to-the-end liking, but I couldn't love it as I wanted to. The reason being I think just about the most unlikable child protagonist I've encountered in literature. The story is set in Qaddafi's Libya in 1979, and I did love how Matar rendered the setting--everything from the political to the personal to the foods and literature consumed. I came out of the book feeling I had a good sense what it was like growing up in that place and time. The writing...more
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Great African Reads: Nov/Dec: Libya | "In the Country of Men" 33 43 Dec 27, 2012 11:47AM  
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Hisham Matar was born in New York City. He spent his childhood in America with his Libyan parents while his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations. When he was three years old, his family went back to Tripoli, Libya, where he spent his early childhood. Due to political persecutions by the Gaddafi regime, in 1979 his father was accused of being a reactionary to the Libya...more
More about Hisham Matar...
Anatomy of a Disappearance Naima Niemandsland عرس الزين

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“Grief loves the hollow; all it wants is to hear its own echo.” 36 likes
“وفي بعض الصباحات الشتوية عندما تلتحف السماء بظلمة عنيدة، كنت أتسلل إلى سريرها البديل وأنا بكامل ملابسي المدرسية، ثم أتقوقع في التجويف الذي خلّفته في الملاءات وأتساءل وربطة عنقي تضغط على رقبتي، والدفء يسري في خدي من وسادتها، كيف للفردوس أن يكون شيئاً مختلفاً عن هذا؟” 16 likes
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