In the Country of Men

Matar, Hisham, 1970-

Book - 2007
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
In the Country of Men
Random House, Inc.
Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn’t he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie?

Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand—where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father’s cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend’s father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television.

In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare. But above all, it is a debut of rare insight and literary grace.

Baker & Taylor
On a hot day in Tripoli in the summer of 1979, nine-year-old Suleiman spots his father, supposedly away on business, across from the market square and wearing dark glasses, the first portent of grave danger in a previously unsuspected world.

Blackwell North Amer
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 in a pair of dark glasses. But why isn't he waving? And why doesn't he come over when he knows Suleiman's mother is falling apart?
Whispers and fears intensify around Suleiman: his best friend's father disappears and is next seen being interrogated on state television; a man parks his car outside the house every day and asks strange questions; and his mother frantically burns his father's books. As Suleiman begins to wonder whether his father has disappeared for good, it feels as if the walls of his home will break with the secrets that are being held within.

& Taylor

On a hot day in Tripoli, Libya, in the summer of 1979, nine-year-old Suleiman is shopping in the market square with his mother while his father is away on business, except that he is sure he has just seen his father, standing across the street in a pair of dark glasses, the first portent of grave danger and a sinister, previously unsuspected world. 45,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Dial Press, 2007
ISBN: 0385340427
Branch Call Number: FIC M
Characteristics: 246 p. ; 22 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Hotter than NYC in August by: NYPLRecommends Jul 30, 2014

A nine-year-old Libyan boy is caught between a father whose covert activities bring about searches, stalkers, and bugged telephones, and mother who turns to drugs to bury her anxiety and anger.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 22, 2015
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

1979, in Tipoli, nine year old Suleiman witnesses increasing unrest amongst his family and friends. Slowly he slides into the banality of evil that is possessing them; he betrays his best friend, he lies to his mother, he lashes out at his father. But in the blinding glare of Libya's Revolutionary Committee he feels that he is just doing his duty as a 'man'.

Feb 13, 2014
  • Libannia rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I read that this was "the Libyan Kite Runner", in the sense of being told through the eyes of a young boy with the back drop that of a country in turmoil. Lyrical language and sense of foreboding throughout.

Jun 14, 2012
  • uncommonreader rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

The novel foreshadows Matar's later book, "Anatomy of a Disappearance". Set in Lybia, the father disappears in this novel as well.

Apr 13, 2011
  • CorinneSaad rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An excellent novel to help you understand what's happening in Libya today - although not for the faint of heart. Matar exposes the weaknesses in all his characters. His language is also quite beautiful.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL


Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

In the Country of Men
Matar, Hisham, 1970-
In the Country of Men

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings