short books

READ THE WORLD – Libya: Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda

Translated by Adriana Hunter.

Set in Tripoli in 1960, Hadachinou is a young, lonely boy who is surrounded by the women in his life. In the sweltering heat he sneaks through the sun-drenched streets, listening in on the whispered stories of the women in his life. He becomes an invisible witness to their repressed desires and solely becomes aware of his own.

Under the Tripoli Sky is a very short book at 104 pages and it’s a very meandering kind of story. It’s made up of little snap shots of Hadachinou’s life and the interactions with the different women in his life. There’s his mother and her friends, his aunts and cousins, and a young girl that helps out around his house. He has a lot of freedom and because he’s a child, he often goes unnoticed by his mother when she has her female friends in the house. As he’s unseen he can watch and listen from the side lines, and through his voyeurism he begins to be aware of women’s desires and his own. Though that doesn’t mean he understands them.

The writing in Under the Tripoli Sky is poetic and immersive. The heat, the sand and the sea are easy to imagine as Hadachinou explores his city. There’s almost a dreamlike quality to Under the Tripoli Sky as Hadachinou has so much freedom and a seemingly idyllic childhood. But it’s a dream that we, as the reader, know must come to an end as it’s set before Gaddafi came to power and so the society in Tripoli in this story is quite different to what one might think of Tripoli and Libya today.

Under the Tripoli Sky is a coming of age tale about an inquisitive child. Hadachinou may be privy to more than the adults in his life are aware but that doesn’t mean he understands it all. There’s some interesting insights into Libyan society in the early 1960s, the troubles and traumas that face women but also how things do seem to be evolving, but overall it’s a book that’s composed of vignettes that don’t leave a lasting impression.

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All The Short Ones Readathon TBR

All The Short Ones is a month long readathon hosted by Jessica at Novel Cravings. The aim of the readathon is to read as many of your short unread books, those that are 300 pages or less, during the month of March – they can also be novellas, poetry collections, comics and graphic novels.

I head of this readathon via Kristen’s Twitter when she shared her TBR and I thought it was a great way to get reading more books. I’ve nearly finished reading Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah so once I’ve finished that these are the books I’ll probably be picking up.

all-the-small-ones-readathon-tbr

At 157 pages there’s Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, a classic I’ve been meaning to read for ages, How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel has 136 pages and would count towards my Read the World Project as would Nineveh by Henrietta Rose-Innes (236 pages) and The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (212 pages). Then I have some comic trade paperbacks – Saga Volume Six by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan, Mockingbird Volume One: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk and Ibrahim Moustafa and The Fix Volume One: Where Beagles Dare by Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill and Nic J Shaw. I have more unread graphic novels that I can pick up if I manage to read all these and/or fancy something a bit different.

I’m looking forward to seeing how I do. My main goal is to read at least four of these but really, I’ve got near enough the whole month so that, and more, should be doable.

There’s still time to sign up if you’re interested in taking part – you can do so here and sign ups close on the 7th. You can also use the hashtag #ATSOReadathon on Twitter and Instagram to see others progress and to share your own.