In the Country of Men

In the Country of Men is the debut novel of Hisham Matar who was born into a Libyan family in New York and grew up in Tripoli and Cairo.  Ron Charles writes in his review for the Washington Post:

“Behind reports of dissidents intimidated, tortured and killed by the world’s repressive regimes hide the subtler, more obscure stories of their young children. They experience a world overcast by two shadows: parents trying to shield them from alarm and Orwellian governments denying that anything is amiss. Writing from his current home in London, Libyan author Hisham Matar has captured this plight in his first novel, a haunting, poetic story about a 9-year-old boy struggling to comprehend what’s happening to his family in the vise of Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s reign of terror. In the Country of Men, which was shortlisted for last year’s Man Booker Prize, includes frightening glimpses of the dictatorship’s abuses and Libya’s brand of Islamic puritanism, but Matar focuses primarily on the psychological damage wreaked on his young narrator.”

Lorraine Adams compares the novel to 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 in her review for the Herald Tribune.

Like the character in the story, the author’s father was targeted by Gaddafi’s government.  Read his real-life story in The Independent, where he writes:

“What I want is to know what happened to my father. If he is alive, I wish to speak with him and see him. If he has broken the law, he ought to be tried and given a chance to defend himself. And if he is dead, then I want to know how, where and when it happened. I want a date, a detailed account and the location of his body.”

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