In the Country of Men re-release | رواية “في بلد الرجال” نُشرمن جديد

in-the-country-of-men-new Hisham Matar’s first novel In the Country of Men has been re-released as a Penguin Essential: “The Penguin Essentials are some of the twentieth-century’s most important books. When they were first published they changed the way we thought about literature and about life. And they have remained vital reading ever since.”

The book is graced by a fantastic new cover designed by Christopher Worker.

I assume that everyone has already read this book, so I post it here to mark the occasion. Of course, with its fancy new cover, you have yet another reason to share it with as many people as possible. As a friend recently said: “the cover is beautiful but the content is more beautiful.”

The blurb is: “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.”

The Confines of the Shadow by Alessandro Spina

The first volume of the novel The Confines of the Shadow, “a literary homage to Benghazi”, was released one week ago by Darf Publishers, the English-language imprint of the well-known Libyan publisher Dar el-Fergiani.

The sequence of novels and short stories takes as its subject the Italian experience in Cyrenaica. The Young Maronite (1971) discusses the 1911 war prompted by Giolitti, Omar’s Wedding(1973) narrates the ensuing truce and the attempt by the two peoples to strike a compromise before the rise of Fascism. The Nocturnal Visitor (1979) chronicles the end of the twenty-year Libyan resistance; Officers’ Tales (1967) focuses on the triumph of colonialism—albeit this having been achieved when the end of Italian hegemony already loomed in sight and the Second World War appeared inevitable—and The Psychological Comedy(1992), which ends with Italy’s retreat from Libya and the fleeing of settlers. Entry Into Babylon (1976) concentrates on Libyan independence in 1951, Cairo Nights (1986) illustrates the early years of the Senussi Monarchy and the looming spectre of Pan-Arab nationalism, while The Shore of the Lesser Life (1997) examines the profound social and political changes that occurred when large oil and gas deposits were discovered in the mid-1960s. Each text can be read independently or as part of the sequence. Either mode of reading will produce different—but equally legitimate—impressions.

The novel is translated from the Italian by André Naffis-Sahely, who has written previously (see his article in the Nation, republished in Banipal) about the process of researching and translating Spina’s opus. This is the third Libyan novel that Darf Publishers have published in translation. Read a recent interview with the publishers here.

Support Libyan literature in translation! Buy a copy from your nearest bookseller today!

[Updates!—Reviews and other news added below, as they appear.]

5 July 2015 Review by Seth Messigner at the Sultan’s Seal blog.

28 July 2015 Review by Boyd Tonkin in The Independent.

9 Sept 2015 Essay by Andre Naffis-Sahely at Words Beyond Borders.

21 Sept 2015 Interview with Andre Naffis-Sahely here at ArabLit.

1 Oct 2015 Review by Ursula Lindsey at The Nation.