In the country of men

Viking, 2006

Nine-year-old Suleiman is just awakening to the wider world, beyond the games on the hot pavement outside his home and beyond the loving embrace of his parents.

He becomes the man of the house when his father goes away on business—but then he sees his father, standing in the market square in a pair of dark glasses. Suddenly the wider world becomes a frightening place where parents lie and questions go unanswered. Suleiman turns to his mother, who, under the cover of night, entrusts him with the secret story of her childhood.



Praise for In the country of men

"Exquisite.... full of essential truths: the more you read the more you feel the childhood described in it is yours." — Nadeem Aslam

"A poignant story of a child exposed too early to the brutalities of Libyan politics." — J. M. Coetzee

"In the Country of Men understands that love - despite betrayal, grief, mistrust, rage, political terror - nevetheless remains love." — Anne Michaels

 “A powerful portrait of a family.... shares themes with Ian McEwan's Atonement and Michael Frayn's Spies, and can hold its head high in such singular company.” — The Times

“Matar writes beautifully.... He is a nuanced observer with a gift for conveying both absurdity and raw emotion” — The Guardian

“What emerges from this moving and graceful novel is the insistence that memories of love will survive the country of men” — The Independent

“Graceful.... Quietly, but with the insistence of a tolling bell, Matar lays bare for Suleiman both public and private worlds of overlapping male power, role models, standards and styles. At its intimate center, the novel calibrates the boy's shifting, decreasingly innocent perspective as he himself becomes implicated by cruelty and betrayal.”— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Selected Reviews

The Dissident's SonThe New York Times, Lorraine Adams
Muslims In The DarkThe New York Review of Books, Pankaj Mishra
Where the Mulberries GrowThe Guardian, Kamila Shamsie
To Be A ManThe Times Literary Supplement, Andrew Van Der Vlies
Libya Through a Child's EyesThe Telegraph, Katie Owen
A Child's Eye View of TerrorThe Times, Celia Brayfield
A Libyan ChildhoodThe Washington Post, Ron Charles



National Book Critics Circle Awards Nominee, 2008
Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize Winner, 2007
Commonwealth Writers’ Prize of Europe and South Asia Winner, 2007
Library Journal Best Books of the Year Winner, 2007
New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year Winner, 2007
Guardian First Book Award Winner, 2006
The Man Booker Prize Shortlist, 2006


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