Under the Tripoli Sky

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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Bout of Books 24 TBR

Bout of Books is a readathon that’s been happening a couple of times a year, for multiple years now. It’s a readathon I’ve always wanted to take part in but I’ve either not realised when the readathon is happening, so I miss it, or life just gets in the way of reading.

The next Bout of Books readathon starts tomorrow, Monday 7 January, at 12:01am and finishes at 11:59pm on Sunday 13 January and this time I am prepared! Tomorrow is my first day back at work after the Christmas break but otherwise my week is going to be very normal, so I should have plenty of time for reading.

The thing I like about Bout of Books is there are no challenges or targets, instead the aim is to read more than you usually would in a week. Depending on the books I’m reading and life, I can read two books a week, so it’d be great if I could kickstart my reading in 2019 with three books read this week.

I’ve borrowed the audiobook of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante from my library and I plan to start that on my walk to work tomorrow morning. That’ll probably take me longer than a week to read so I have some physical books on my Bout of Books TBR too.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
Augustown by Kei Miller
Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda, translated by Adriana Hunter
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve come to realise that when it comes to readathons I get more books read if they’re YA (and often YA contemporary) or short, so I have a mix of both on my TBR.

Augustown is just over 200 pages while Under the Tripoli Sky is barely 100 pages. Both of these books would be for my Read the World Project, Jamaica and Libya respectively. I’m loving the recent boom in YA books about girls standing up for themselves against sexism so The Exact Opposite of Okay looks like just my sort of thing. I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart a few years ago and sped through it so hopefully Genuine Fraud will be the same.

There’s my TBR for the Bout of Books readathon, though I don’t think I’ll read all the books mentioned, if I finish three of them I’ll be really happy. Are you taking part in this round of the readathon? Or have you taken part in Bout of Books before? Do you have any readathon tips? I know I’m always far too optimistic and often end up winging it!