In the Country of Men

Book Cover

Monday, October 28, 7:00 p.m.

In the Bentley Conference Room on 2nd Floor

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar: Matar sets his debut in the cities in which he grew up, Tripoli and Cairo, and focuses on the memories of his narrator, Suleiman, as he relives the summer of 1979, when he was nine. Matar perceptively portrays Suleiman as he gradually gains awareness of the political unrest in which the life of his family is mired. His father, he discovers, is repeatedly absent not on business trips but because he's hiding his antigovernment activities. After Suleimans friend Kareem's father is taken away, his interrogation is shown on television, followed by his public hanging. Suleiman helps his mother burn all his fathers books after he, too, is taken away, though the boy doesn't connect this act with the fact that his Baba is savagely beaten. After being sent to Egypt with a family friend, Suleiman is labeled a stray dog by Qaddafis government. This means he can never go home again, and his parents can never leave. Matar tells a gripping and shocking tale that illuminates the personal facet of a national nightmare. -- Deborah Donovan (Reviewed 12-01-2006) (Booklist, vol 103, number 7, p22)