BPP Book Club: The Story Behind the Story : The Bryant Park Project BPP Book Club: The story behind the story.
NPR logo BPP Book Club: The Story Behind the Story

BPP Book Club: The Story Behind the Story

Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men hide caption

toggle caption

Our inaugural BPP Book Club selection, In the Country of Men, tells the story of a young boy coming of age in Moammar Gadhafi's Libya in the late 1970s. It is a tale haunted by political violence; the boy's father, a member of the resistance, is continually under threat.

For the book's author, Hisham Matar, that milieu has a deeply personal meaning. While the book is not strictly autobiographical, Matar's own father was active against the Gadhafi government. In 1990, he was abducted from his home in exile in Cairo and taken to a Libyan prison. His family has not seen him since, and his fate remains unknown.

Matar tells the story of his father's disappearance in a moving essay from the Independent of London, published in 2006:

To this day, every knock on the door could be my father. But the only way in which he visits unannounced is in dreams. I dream of him frequently. He sometimes comes as a young man; other times, wounded by his prison torturers. Most recently, his visit was so vivid, I am yet to recover from it. He was an old man, the age he should be now, and had the reticence of someone accustomed to solitude. He had acquired new habits, new manners of speech: attaching the phrase "you see?" at the end of every other sentence. His character has been coloured by his companions, I thought jealously in my dream. He spoke briefly, courteously, the way a fellow train passenger might do to pass away the time. When I placed my hand on his shoulder, he fell silent.

Not quite a month from now -- Friday, March 28th -- we'll have our book club meeting online. We'll generate some questions for the author. Then we'll talk to the author on our radio show and give you a chance to have your questions answered.

Hey, we're official! The BPP Book Club now has its own e-mail address.