"In the Country of Men" was an account of lives under the military dictatorship of Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Leader and Guide of the Revolutionary Committee of Libya. The story took place in Tripoli in 1979 and was told through the eyes of Suleiman, a nine-year old boy who witnessed the arrest of a dissident professor living next door. This was followed by the disappearance of Suleiman's father.
To a nine-year old kid, all these horrors from the government's clamp-down on free speech, the atrocities committed by the totalitarian state, and the fear and misery of the people were simply bland and uneventful. It is clever for the author to depict the terror of dictatorship as a sideline of Suleiman's yearning for his father's love and attention. It makes the military regime's grip on the freedom of the people even more horrendous. There was a scene when Suleiman watched from the TV the public trial and execution of a so-called traitor, and he described it very plainly and directly and in childish language. It makes you shudder at the cruelty of the cold-blooded regime and the madness of the rabble-rousing crowd.
However, maybe the issues tackled by the book are too heavy, I find it less enjoyable than "Carry Me Down", which is more entertaining. "In the Country of Men" is rather slow-paced and long, and you may find it boring and give up half-way through.
If you can be more patient, try to finish it. It will make you marvel at the strength of humanity and the tenacity of mankind in the face of extreme persecution and suffering....Continua