BookBrowse Reviews In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

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In the Country of Men

By Hisham Matar

In the Country of Men
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2007,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2008,
    256 pages.

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A stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare set in 1970s Libya

Labeled by some as the "Libyan Kite Runner", In The Country of Men does share some similarities with Khaled Hosseini's runaway bestseller in that both are about young boys growing up in countries experiencing political implosion, with the result that their boy-sized mistakes take on adult-sized consequences; but Matar's prose is leaner than Hosseini's, and his themes share more with Ian McEwan's Atonement than with The Kite Runner. Matar's writing is arrestingly evocative, blending raw emotion with tiny, seemingly incongruous details seen through the eyes of a child, details that serve to fill the adult reader, who can interpret what the child sees in the wider context, with fear as he or she picks up the traces of impending doom lurking behind the innocuous.

The plot centers on nine-year-...

Hisham Matar was born in 1970 in New York City where his father, Jaballa Matar, worked for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations.  When Hisham was three years old, his family returned to Libya to live in the capital city of Tripoli, where he spent his early childhood, until political persecution forced his mother to flee with her children.  They first went to Kenya and then to Egypt, where they settled in Cairo.  Hisham and his brother, Ziad, attended a school with 70 pupils per classroom (the only school they could afford) and were badly bullied. Later, Hisham's father managed to get out of Libya and join them in Cairo where he began his political work in earnest - speaking out against the Libyan regime and mobilizing the various factions of the exiled Libyan resistance to unite in ...

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