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In The Country Of Men: Freedom and repression.


In The Country Of Men was written by Hisham Matar in 2005. The book was published by Penguin International and immediately translated into 22 different languages. In The Country Of Men was Matar his firts novel out of two.


The repression of women is an important point in the book. It makes you realise of how lucky you are, not being born in a country like Libya, especially when you are a girl yourself. Women are treated disrespectful and have no chance of ever being succesful.


‘Mom, are you happy?’

She looked at my father, gave him a smile and then looked back at me.

 ‘Yes, I am’, she answered.

I didn’t believe her. She was only saying that, because my father

was listening too.


The story had my total attention in the beginning, but later the book gets rather boring. They repeat the same thing time after time and nothing much happens. On the other hand, the book is really instructive and it shows you how big the difference is between women and men in Libya.


Suleiman is a nine-year-old boy, who lives with his mother (Najwa) and father (Fajar) in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. In that time, Libya was still under the regime of leader Gadaffi. In this country men were free to do anything they want, while women were heavily oppressed. Najwa just couldn’t accept that. Every time Fajar left the house, she would grab a bottle and drink. Suleiman was calling it ‘her disease’.

One day, when Suleiman and his mother Najwa were going to the market, Suleiman sees his father who is supposed to be on a business trip. He thinks it’s strange, but decides not to tell his mother about this, afraid that she would start drinking again. This is the last time that Suleiman saw his father. The only one who he can talk to, is his best friend Kareem. His father had also dissapeared two years ago. Suleiman saw how Kareem changed after the disappearance. He became a rigid and sad guy, who didn’t want nothing to do with anything.

Later it turned out that Suleiman his father and the father of Kareem were rebels against Gadaffi who both were arrested and captured.


In The Country Of Men was really personal for Matar, because it was based on his own youth. He was born in New York but after a few years, he moved back with his family to Libya. His father wasn’t welcome there and they fled to Egypt. That was a big mistake, because while they were living there, Matar his father disappeared. Just like Suleimans father did.

Lately Matar received a letter from his father that he is still alive.


The book was really instructive and the way women in Libya are treated, touched me. It was easy to read, but I wouldn’t recommend it.     


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