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In the Country of Men [Paperback]

Hisham Matar
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

22 Dec 2011
Nine-year-old Suleiman is just awakening to the wider world beyond the games on the hot pavement outside his home and beyond the loving embrace of his parents. He becomes the man of the house when his father goes away on business, but then he sees his father, standing in the market square in a pair of dark glasses. Suddenly the wider world becomes a frightening place where parents lie and questions go unanswered. Suleiman turns to his mother, who, under the cover of night, entrusts him with the secret story of her childhood.

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In the Country of Men + "Men in the Sun" and Other Palestinian Stories + The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (22 Dec 2011)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0241957079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241957073
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. In the Country of Men was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006, the Guardian First Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US. It won six international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the Royal Society of Literatury Ondaatje Prize and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. It has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Hisham Matar's second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was published in 2011. Hisham Matar lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written and emotionally powerful 31 May 2014
By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER
A beautifully written and very compelling novel of betrayal and loss of freedom, set in Colonel Gaddafi's Libya. The first person narrator looks back on the childhood summer when his life fell apart after his democratic-leaning father fell foul of the regime. Although the story concerns a child, the retrospective narration by the adult Suleiman means there is none of the awkwardness that can go with trying to write in a child's voice. The writing style is one of the great assets of this story - it's very readable and not at all pretentious, but captures thoughts and feelings with a beautiful turn of phrase.

It is an extremely intense and powerful story that I was unable to put down and yet was often painful to read, so strongly does the reader feel the pain and confusion of the narrator. For saying the action mostly takes place in one house and with relatively few characters, it is an immensely involving tale and never dull. It's written in such a way that the reader can understand what is going on even when as a child Suleiman isn't always entirely aware himself. But Suleiman is not merely a bystander - he plays his part in the events that unfold, even though he doesn't fully understand the implications of what he is doing.

Suleiman's mother is an interesting supporting character and the sub-plot concerning her lonely life and how she came to be married off against her will is an important element of the book. It shows a different aspect of life in a patriarchal society, whilst tying in with the overall themes of oppression and betrayal. The novel's central question is whether it is better to live a slave or stand up and die, and a clear answer is never really provided.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving 22 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A sad and moving account. I think we should read more books like this to see what life is like for the families living under pressure and without the freedom of speach we take for granted.
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