NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, October 1, 2009


by Hisham Matar

"Qaddafi's Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman one day sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace. 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.

In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare." (From the back of the Dial Press Trade Paperback edition.)

I was originally going to say that my lack of knowledge regarding the politics in Libya dampened my enthusiasm for In the Country of Men, but after thinking on it for a while I decided it actually enhanced the effect of the novel. The story is told from the point of view of a young boy who doesn't understand what is happening or the reasons for it until he is older. My own ignorance put me in a position similar to that of the young Suleiman, which was just as frustrating to me as it was to him.

I didn't love this book, but it made me curious and reflective. There are books that maybe don't rip your heart out and cause you to brood for days, leaping immediately to your list of your life's most impactful reads, but they do make you think twice about complaining about your life. In the Country of Men is one of those.


Terri B. said...

Don't you just love the way you can change your mind about a book or your reaction to a book after dwelling on it for a bit?

Lezlie said...

Terri ~ Yes! It's exactly why I don't rate books. I'm guessing that even though I didn't love it, it will probably end up being one of the ones I'm still thinking about months later.


bermudaonion said...

This one is sitting in my book stacks - maybe it'll be good for a cold winter day.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I didn't love this one either...just okay.

Michele said...

Just goes to show, you never know what will strike your fancy, especially upon reflection. I think the Libyan politics thing sounds fascinating. I've put this one on my list of books to buy!

Lezlie said...

Bermuda Onion ~ It is a good winter book. It's a quick read, too.

Diane ~ That's good to know. So many people raved about it, I kind of felt bad that I wasn't more into it.

Michele ~ Libyan politics is exactly what I was made curious about. I'll have to explore it further once I finish all these reading challenges. I'll be looking forward to seeing your thoughts on this one when you have a chance to get to it!


Ladytink_534 said...

Interesting. Not sure I could enjoy something that would frustrate me so but I like the fact that you were able to empathize with the main character.

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ It was easy to read, so that kept me going even when I couldn't quite grasp exactly what was going on. I can't imagine living in such constant confusion and fear.


Nan said...

Very, very interesting. As I read, I could 'see' it working as a film.

joanna said...

Hmmm, this actually sounds more interesting than I thought it would be... I believe it's on my shelf somewhere in any case and I've never read anything about Libya, think I should!

Lezlie said...

Nan ~ You're right! This would make a great film. I just don't know if I could watch it! For some reason these kinds of things are easier for me in word form.

Joanna ~ I'm glad that less than stellar reviews can still pique people's interest in reading a book. Many are still worth reading even if we didn't love them. Like this one!