'Bryant Park' Book Club: 'In the Country of Men' Writer Sarah Goodyear welcomes you to the Bryant Park Project Book Club. In March, we'll be reading Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men.
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'Bryant Park' Book Club: 'In the Country of Men'

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'Bryant Park' Book Club: 'In the Country of Men'

'Bryant Park' Book Club: 'In the Country of Men'

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We here at the BPP know that you, our listeners, are smart people. And smart people who I'm guessing might like to read a good book now and again.

So we decided we're just going to start a book club.


Why not?

STEWART: We just decided.

MARTIN: We're doing it.

STEWART: It doesn't that matter Oprah's practically trademarked the phrase book club. We don't care. We want to do it too.

MARTIN: Here's how it's going to work, people. We're going to pick a book, and we'll give you a whole month to read it, you know, that's enough. You can do that. You can do it. A little bit everyday. We'll have a book club leader who will periodically visit on our blog to remind us to keep reading and to give us stuff to think about and field your questions.

Later on this month we'll have our virtual book club meeting online, and our leader will moderate a discussion about the book, and we'll generate some questions for the author.

STEWART: And then we're going to interview the author of the book and ask him or her your questions.

MARTIN: I like it, sounds good.

STEWART: So here to unveil the first selection of the newly formed BPP book club, is close personal friend of the BPP, Sarah Goodyear. Sarah is the partner of our Web editor, Laura Conaway, and she writes about books for Time Out New York magazine. Sarah is also a novelist in her own right. Her book, "View from a Burning Bridge" was published last year. Nice to see you.

Ms. SARAH GOODYEAR (Contributor, Time Out New York; Author, "View from a Burning Bridge"): Nice to see you.

MARTIN: Welcome, Sarah.

STEWART: (unintelligible) Christmas party.

Ms. GOODYEAR: Good morning.

STEWART: All right, Sarah. Now, we didn't pick your book.

Ms. GOODYEAR: No, no.

STEWART: But that would have been okay.

Ms. GOODYEAR: Well, that might have been a little self-serving.

(Soundbite of laughter)


STEWART: All right. So which book did you pick?

Ms. GOODYEAR: I picked a book called "In the Country of Men" by a Libyan author named Hisham Matar. He was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2006 for this book. And when I read it, when it came out for the first time in hardback last year in the U.S., I just was really entranced by it.

It's the story of a 9-year-old boy coming of age in Libya in 1979, in sort of the most repressive brutal part of the Gadhafi regime when Libya was the most isolated from the rest of the world. And it's a wonderful because it takes you into that secret world that we have so little idea of - we think of Libya as being this enemy - and sort of in the same way that maybe "The Kite Runner" or "Persepolis" takes us into this world that we know nothing about and makes it human and real.

What's sort of tragic about this is that the author is in exile now. The situation in Libya continues to be very, very repressive. That's something we don't necessarily want to acknowledge now that Libya is...

MARTIN: They're our friends?

Ms. GOODYEAR: ...more friendly with us now. And his father, actually, was abducted and has not been heard of since the 1990s.

Anyway, but it's a beautiful book. And...

MARTIN: What struck you about this? What stayed with you?

Ms. GOODYEAR: Well, it's not only the story of a child growing up in this repressive society, but it's also the story of a family that's distorted and pressured by that society. So I'm going to read a little bit from it.

STEWART: You know what? I'm not sure we have time, actually, to read a little bit of it.

Ms. GOODYEAR: We don't have time for it? Okay.

MARTIN: That we only increase the drama.

STEWART: You know what? We'll put the passage you've chosen, we'll put it online.

Ms. GOODYEAR: Excellent. That'll work.

STEWART: And then people can read it. How about that?

Ms. GOODYEAR: Absolutely.

STEWART: Sarah Goodyear is the BPP Book Club's mistress. To recap your assignment, you have one month to read "In the Country of Men" by Hisham Matar. It just came out in paperback. You may be able to find it at your local library. We'll post info about it on the blog.

MARTIN: Thanks, Sarah.

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