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In the Country of Men

by

In the Country of Men Cover

ISBN13: 9780385340427
ISBN10: 0385340427
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Review-A-Day

"[A] knockout — emotionally wrenching and gorgeously written. It is not primarily a political novel; it's about the relationships in one family and about a boy struggling to make sense of events, both public and private, that he has been exposed to far too soon....If In the Country of Men proves to be merely a promise of what Hisham Matar can do, London's literary lights had better watch their backs." Yvonne Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, Matar's debut novel tracks the effects of Libyan strongman Khadafy's 1969 September revolution on the el-Dawani family, as seen by nine-year-old Suleiman, who narrates as an adult. Living in Tripoli 10 years after the revolution with his parents and spending lazy summer days with his best friend, Kareem, Suleiman has his world turned upside down when the secret police–like Revolutionary Committee puts the family in its sights—though Suleiman does not know it, his father has spoken against the regime and is a clandestine agitator—along with families in the neighborhood. When Kareem's father is arrested as a traitor, Suleiman's own father appears to be next. The ensuing brutality resonates beyond the bloody events themselves to a brutalizing of heart and mind for all concerned. Matar renders it brilliantly, as well as zeroing in on the regime's reign of terror itself: mock trials, televised executions, neighbors informing on friends, persecution mania in those remaining. By the end, Suleiman's father must either renounce the cause or die for it, and Suleiman faces the aftermath of conflicts (including one with Kareem) that have left no one untouched. Suleiman's bewilderment speaks volumes. Matar wrests beauty from searing dread and loss." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Behind reports of dissidents intimidated, tortured and killed by the world's repressive regimes hide the subtler, more obscure stories of their young children. They experience a world overcast by two shadows: parents trying to shield them from alarm and Orwellian governments denying that anything is amiss. Writing from his current home in London, Libyan author Hisham Matar has captured this plight... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] moving and graceful novel." The Independent (London)

Review:

"Matar tells a gripping and shocking tale that illuminates the personal facet of a national nightmare." Booklist

Review:

"[A] masterful debut novel....In the Country of Men is a small gem of a book that packs an emotional wallop." Denver Post

Review:

"Readers of this remarkable novel will learn a little about Libya's political history and a lot about how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They will also be haunted by Suleiman, his fate and his eventual awakening to the complexities of adult relationships." Seattle Times

Review:

"[S]tunning....In the Country of Men is about the treacheries of the human heart. In this textured novel, Matar shows how well he can sing with the memory of the sword still keen." Kansas City Star

Review:

"[An] intriguing debut....A tender-hearted account, winning in its simplicity, of a childhood infected too soon by the darkness of adults." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Most memorable in this beautifully written book is the relationship between Suleiman and his young mother....Matar portrays their relationship in intimate, realistic, and heartbreaking scenes. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Matar is a careful, controlled writer. His restraint — the spaces and the light between his words — make reading his work a physical as well as an emotional experience." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

In the tradition of the great immigrant sagas, The Lion Seeker brings us Isaac Helger, son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, surviving the streets of Johannesburg in the shadow of World War II

Synopsis:

In the tradition of the great immigrant sagas, The Lion Seeker brings us Isaac Helger, son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, surviving the streets of Johannesburg in the shadow of World War II

Are you a stupid or a clever?

Such is the refrain in Isaac Helgers mind as he makes his way from redheaded hooligan to searching adolescent to striving young man on the make. His mothers question haunts every choice. Are you a stupid or a clever? Will you find a way to lift your family out of Johannesburgs poor inner city, to buy a house in the suburbs, to bring your aunts and cousins from Lithuania?

Isaacs mother is a strong woman and a scarred woman; her maimed face taunts him with a past no one will discuss. As World War II approaches, then falls upon them, they hurtle toward a catastrophic reckoning. Isaac must make decisions that, at first, only seem to be life-or-death, then actually are.

Meanwhile, South Africas history, bound up with Europes but inflected with its own accents—Afrikaans, Zulu, Yiddish, English—begins to unravel. Isaacs vibrant, working-class, Jewish neighborhood lies near the African slums; under cover of night, the slums are razed, the residents forced off to townships. Isaacs fortune-seeking takes him to the privileged seclusion of the Johannesburg suburbs, where he will court forbidden love. It partners him with the unlucky, unsinkable Hugo Bleznick, selling miracle products to suspicious farmers. And it leads him into a feud with a grayshirt Afrikaaner who insidiously undermines him in the auto shop, where Isaac has found the only work that ever felt true. And then his mothers secret, long carefully guarded, takes them to the diamond mines, where everything is covered in a thin, metallic dust, where lions wait among desert rocks, and where Isaac will begin to learn the bittersweet reality of success bought at truly any cost.

A thrilling ride through the life of one fumbling young hero, The Lion Seeker is a glorious reinvention of the classic family and coming-of-age sagas. We are caught — hearts open and wrecked — between the urgent ambitions of a mother who knows what it takes to survive and a son straining against the responsibilities of the old world, even as he is endowed with the freedoms of the new.

Synopsis:

In 1979 Libya, nine-year-old Suleiman endures his mother's increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. His father is away on business (again), and Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand in this novel that offers a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare.

About the Author

Hisham Matar was born in New York. He spent his childhood in America with his Libyan parents while his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the U.N. He has written poetry, experimented in theatre, and began writing his first novel, In The Country Of Men, in early 2000.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

SandyPP, October 13, 2013 (view all comments by SandyPP)
This one really grabbed me--it'd been a long time since I couldn't put a book down. Suleiman is 9 in 1979 Libya. Criticizing the dictatorship is dangerous so lies become the norm, which may ultimately be more dangerous than the truth. Great characters and gripping plot. I envy those who can read it for the first time.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
stacia, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by stacia)
A personal expression about the weight of oppression growing up in Libya for both men and women. Very moving.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385340427
Author:
Matar, Hisham
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author:
Bonert, Kenneth
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20131015
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
576
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1.75 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

In the Country of Men Used Hardcover
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$5.95 In Stock
Product details 576 pages Dial Press - English 9780385340427 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, Matar's debut novel tracks the effects of Libyan strongman Khadafy's 1969 September revolution on the el-Dawani family, as seen by nine-year-old Suleiman, who narrates as an adult. Living in Tripoli 10 years after the revolution with his parents and spending lazy summer days with his best friend, Kareem, Suleiman has his world turned upside down when the secret police–like Revolutionary Committee puts the family in its sights—though Suleiman does not know it, his father has spoken against the regime and is a clandestine agitator—along with families in the neighborhood. When Kareem's father is arrested as a traitor, Suleiman's own father appears to be next. The ensuing brutality resonates beyond the bloody events themselves to a brutalizing of heart and mind for all concerned. Matar renders it brilliantly, as well as zeroing in on the regime's reign of terror itself: mock trials, televised executions, neighbors informing on friends, persecution mania in those remaining. By the end, Suleiman's father must either renounce the cause or die for it, and Suleiman faces the aftermath of conflicts (including one with Kareem) that have left no one untouched. Suleiman's bewilderment speaks volumes. Matar wrests beauty from searing dread and loss." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "[A] knockout — emotionally wrenching and gorgeously written. It is not primarily a political novel; it's about the relationships in one family and about a boy struggling to make sense of events, both public and private, that he has been exposed to far too soon....If In the Country of Men proves to be merely a promise of what Hisham Matar can do, London's literary lights had better watch their backs." (read the entire CSM review)
"Review" by , "[A] moving and graceful novel." (London)
"Review" by , "Matar tells a gripping and shocking tale that illuminates the personal facet of a national nightmare."
"Review" by , "[A] masterful debut novel....In the Country of Men is a small gem of a book that packs an emotional wallop."
"Review" by , "Readers of this remarkable novel will learn a little about Libya's political history and a lot about how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They will also be haunted by Suleiman, his fate and his eventual awakening to the complexities of adult relationships."
"Review" by , "[S]tunning....In the Country of Men is about the treacheries of the human heart. In this textured novel, Matar shows how well he can sing with the memory of the sword still keen."
"Review" by , "[An] intriguing debut....A tender-hearted account, winning in its simplicity, of a childhood infected too soon by the darkness of adults."
"Review" by , "Most memorable in this beautifully written book is the relationship between Suleiman and his young mother....Matar portrays their relationship in intimate, realistic, and heartbreaking scenes. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Matar is a careful, controlled writer. His restraint — the spaces and the light between his words — make reading his work a physical as well as an emotional experience."
"Synopsis" by ,
In the tradition of the great immigrant sagas, The Lion Seeker brings us Isaac Helger, son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, surviving the streets of Johannesburg in the shadow of World War II
"Synopsis" by ,
In the tradition of the great immigrant sagas, The Lion Seeker brings us Isaac Helger, son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, surviving the streets of Johannesburg in the shadow of World War II

Are you a stupid or a clever?

Such is the refrain in Isaac Helgers mind as he makes his way from redheaded hooligan to searching adolescent to striving young man on the make. His mothers question haunts every choice. Are you a stupid or a clever? Will you find a way to lift your family out of Johannesburgs poor inner city, to buy a house in the suburbs, to bring your aunts and cousins from Lithuania?

Isaacs mother is a strong woman and a scarred woman; her maimed face taunts him with a past no one will discuss. As World War II approaches, then falls upon them, they hurtle toward a catastrophic reckoning. Isaac must make decisions that, at first, only seem to be life-or-death, then actually are.

Meanwhile, South Africas history, bound up with Europes but inflected with its own accents—Afrikaans, Zulu, Yiddish, English—begins to unravel. Isaacs vibrant, working-class, Jewish neighborhood lies near the African slums; under cover of night, the slums are razed, the residents forced off to townships. Isaacs fortune-seeking takes him to the privileged seclusion of the Johannesburg suburbs, where he will court forbidden love. It partners him with the unlucky, unsinkable Hugo Bleznick, selling miracle products to suspicious farmers. And it leads him into a feud with a grayshirt Afrikaaner who insidiously undermines him in the auto shop, where Isaac has found the only work that ever felt true. And then his mothers secret, long carefully guarded, takes them to the diamond mines, where everything is covered in a thin, metallic dust, where lions wait among desert rocks, and where Isaac will begin to learn the bittersweet reality of success bought at truly any cost.

A thrilling ride through the life of one fumbling young hero, The Lion Seeker is a glorious reinvention of the classic family and coming-of-age sagas. We are caught — hearts open and wrecked — between the urgent ambitions of a mother who knows what it takes to survive and a son straining against the responsibilities of the old world, even as he is endowed with the freedoms of the new.

"Synopsis" by , In 1979 Libya, nine-year-old Suleiman endures his mother's increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. His father is away on business (again), and Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand in this novel that offers a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare.
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