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In the Country of Men: A Novel [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Hisham Matar , Stephen Hoye
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
Price: 42.67 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 April 2007

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...

From a breathtaking new talent comes an utterly gripping, emotional novel told from the point of view of a young boy growing up in a terrifying and bewildering world where his best friend's father disappears and is next seen on state television at a public execution; where a mysterious man sits outside the house all day and asks strange questions; and where it seems his father has finally disappeared for good.

Soon the whispers and fears, secrets and lies will become so intense that Suleiman can bear them no longer and in his terrified efforts to save his family may end up betraying his friends, his parents and ultimately himself.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Library ed edition (2 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400134188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400134182
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 1.8 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,320,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Exquisite, so full of essential truths: the more you read the more you feel the childhood described in it is yours (Nadeem Aslam, Author Of Maps for Lost Lovers ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

In the Country of Men was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
2006 and the Guardian First Book Award 2006, and won the Commonwealth
Writers' Prize for Best First Book in the Europe and South Asia region. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through the eyes of a child 10 Feb 2007
By A. Hope
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is very powerful, poignant story - told through the eyes of a young boy - who struggles to understand the world he is living in. Through the eyes of Suleiman we see and feel a frightening, confusing picture unfold. Telling the story of Tripoli, and Suleiman's parents in this way, the reader is drawn right into the heart of this family and the times they live in. An enthralling read that has a lot to say about freedom, and what it feels like when those basic freedoms we all take for granted don't exist - and there is a terrifying echo on the phone.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By pseudopanax VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Hisham Matar's first novel is a compelling short novel centred on Suleiman, a nine year old boy experiencing the domestic chaos of his embittered mother and the ramifications of the business, both commercial and political, his often-absent father becomes embroiled in. Matar is at his most convincing in his descriptions of the random acts of violence and betrayal young children inflict on their playmates, parents and the vulnerable, as well as the child's bafflement at the hidden machinations of their parents' domestic world, one so close to them but only perceived in fragments and misconceptions. The politics of the Qaddafi regime are always present and their effect on Suleiman often profound, but Suleiman the child, exploring the parameters of his world in the selfish focus of childhood, is the main focus. The narrative flits around like a child that becomes bored just concentrating on one thing. Whilst the novel is a mirror of the child Suleiman, the adult Suleiman telling his tale often intrudes and expresses his thoughts of what he endured as a child in language a nine-year old would not use. The child's perspective disappears completely in the last section of the book where Suleiman's adolescence and young adulthood are telescoped in a few pages. In this book much is touched on and yet much is also left out--the gaping holes of childhood recollections or a narrative technique designed to frustrate the reader? It's not an entirely satisfying read. Reservations aside, as a tale of a childhood in Libya, it is an engaging and at times terrifying look at a discontented adult world through the eyes of a not so innocent child.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A child's perceptions of life in a terror state 17 Mar 2007
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
It is 1979 and nine-year old Suleiman lives in the brutal police state of Gaddafi's Libya. When the novel opens, a neighbour and his father's close friend, Rashid, has been taken away by the police. Suleiman's father Faraj is in hiding; his febrile mother Najwa is distraught at the way Faraj has endangered himself and his family, and is furious with another friend, the Egyptian Moosa, who has egged on Rashid and Faraj into writing and distributing underground material. The sense of danger is palpable; it haunts Suleiman, and he is tossed about by one emotion after another: a child's love for his parents and for their friends alternates with anger and exasperation; friendship with Rashid's son Kareem alternates with betrayal; understanding and not understanding jostle each other; at times he holds himself in and will not speak, at others he acts impulsively, with fateful consequences; he is haunted by guilt, reinforced by the Islamic teaching he has received about the damnation in store for those who stray from the path of virtue. With his father away, Suleiman has been told he is the man of the house, but he is after all only nine years old. He has to see some terrible things. A few pages from the end of the book, his parents send him to safety in Egypt. With great economy, those pages convey the bleak effects of such a separation.

The Libyan setting - political, cultural and physical - is extremely well evoked. A novel of great power and psychological subtlety.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Gripping, Moving 17 Mar 2007
By Judi d
This is a fantastic book, beautifully written. Hisham Matar describes, through the eyes of 9yr old Suleiman, the appalling death of a neighbour, and the disappearance of his father an alleged 'traitor', who, after his mother begs the government official across the road, is eventually returned home, a hideous bleeding mess. Set in 1979 this is a time that saw some of the most tempestuous years when The Leader was at his pinnacle, and the Libyan people truly suffered. Although Matar insists this is not a true story, having lived there and heard many awful stories, this one strikes an authentic chord, making one think it could quite easily be based on truth. Suleiman's parents manage to get him out of the country to Cairo, but his heart is still firmly in Tripoli with its beautiful glittering sea, mulberry trees and childhood memories of playmates, also his mother either happily drawing in the garden, or unhappily drinking illegal gin in secret - her 'medicine' - something the secret police discover during one terrifying visit. The story describes in enthralling detail the young boy sitting with his mother and watching the public execution on TV of their friend from next door, the man's final humiliating moments broadcast live is both horrifying and riveting in equal measure. Also, how young Suleiman betrays his father to the secret police by telling them exactly where he is, is a powerful portrait of life in Libya at a time when people did disappear. I highly recommend this book, its impossible to put down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Wonderful read. Thought provoking and informative. Its some time since I read it but I shall read it again happily
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. Imogen M. Skirving
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, disturbing and powerful book
Tells of the horrors of the Libyan regime through a child's eyes. Well written and compelling. It's over a year now since I read it but some of the images of the neighbour's TV... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Manchester Teacher
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, interesting
...Sadly, I didn't enjoy the novel as much as the beautiful, evocative writing deserved. IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN is a well-written, interesting novel and one that provides a... Read more
Published on 6 May 2012 by Judy Croome
4.0 out of 5 stars 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,... Read more
Published on 18 April 2012 by DubaiReader
4.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying read
This novel works becasue of the quality of the author's writing. In describing the world of seas and mulberries he is a sensualist; when writing of executions and arrests he is a... Read more
Published on 2 April 2012 by Gerry McCaffrey
1.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly slow, childishly written
I was attracted to this book because I wanted to read a personal, insider's account of what it's been like to live under the Gaddafi regime in recent decades. Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2011 by Ramessesthesecond
4.0 out of 5 stars In the country of men
Wonderfully evocative novel of childhood in gadaffi's libya. The emotional stresses fermenting in the home, the street and the society the protagonist grows up in mould his... Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by christine downton
4.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful, well-told story
This is a very well-written book, telling the story of events in Libya 30 years ago through the eyes of a child. Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2011 by bookworm100
4.0 out of 5 stars Totalitarianism in Tripoli
In the Country of Men is, at the time this review is being posted (May 2011), topical: it is a denunciation of Libyan authoritarianism and violence. Read more
Published on 16 May 2011 by reader 451
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling. Brilliant. Devastating.
The engaging conversational prose written from a child's perspective only serves to heighten the horror of a family experiencing Qaddafi's bloodthirsty regime at first hand, made... Read more
Published on 2 May 2011 by Jonathan P. Guppy
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