Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by MICK LLOYD-OWEN & r & & r & In the Country of Men & r & by Hisham Matar & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & hrough the eyes of a 9-year-old boy living in Gaddafi's tumultuous Libya in 1979, author Hisham Matar draws the reader into the bizarre yet utterly believable world of one family torn by hope, regret, and conflicting loyalties. Young Suleiman, an only child, discovers that his father is not really "abroad" on business as he had been told. He is hiding. Mother is "ill" again -- everything is wrong.





The main character narrates the story as an adult in beautiful, limpid prose evoking the searing heat and heady fragrances of the Mediterranean: "Every person, animal and ant went in desperate search of shade, those occasional gray patches of mercy carved into the white of everything." Suleiman's family is under menacing scrutiny from Gaddafi's regime because of his father's connection to a dissident faction. His best friend's father disappears in one of the Revolutionary Committee's cars, only to reappear in a grim televised spectacle that mars the boy's innocence forever. Mama is burning father's books as the boy tries to understand the difference between faithfulness and betrayal. He asks questions, but the adults in his life attempt to shield him from truth instead of offering answers.





Nothing makes sense from the boy's perspective, yet the author makes everything clear to the reader -- and this is part of what makes the book work. The other part involves Matar's vivid descriptions of the child's surroundings and emotions.





Suleiman loves his alcoholic mother intensely and is tortured by her burdensome revelations while she's "ill." Forced at age 14 to marry a man she had never met and having become pregnant while her father waited outside with a pistol, awaiting proof of her virginity -- "There will be blood either way," he says -- she pines for a stolen life. Wrestling with guilt and a desert full of demons manufactured by his religion, Suleiman dreams of freeing his mother from her past.





Gleaming with wit and trenchant observations, the book's only flaw is that it could have been longer -- the adult characters could have been further developed.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Barred from Help
  • Barred from Help

    Why mentally ill inmates continue to languish in the Spokane County Jail
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • Shake Down
  • Shake Down

    When a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocks Western Washington, what will happen in the Inland Northwest?
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • Envision This!
  • Envision This!

    DSP is fighting the proposed Worker Bill of Rights; plus, finalists for Spokane's police ombudsman
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Moscow ArtWalk 2015

Moscow ArtWalk 2015 @ Downtown Moscow

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through Aug. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Rushing's Rant

    The Airway Heights City Council has asked the mayor to resign after posting a racist Facebook message
    • Jul 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation