Growing up in an affluent environment doesn’t exactly promise you happiness. Despite being a material girl, Lina grew up isolated, often feeling neglected from her parents hectic, bourgeois lifestyle. In her teens, she managed to convince her parents to let her attend finishing school in Switzerland, moving onto university in Washington DC.
It was here where Lina first met The Libyan. She came into the spotlight for her impressive chess matches as well as her sweet personality, catching the eye of her lover-to-be, Kamal Ben Ramadan. Dates blossomed into romance, however, their declaration of love was not easily accepted.
Kamal successfully became the first Libyan to achieve a doctorate in International Relations. Optimistic about the newly installed Gaddafi regime and eager to become involved, he convinces Lina to move to Libya and begin what they thought would be a prosperous life.
Despite being halfway between Singapore and the USA, Lina soon felt she was in a different realm whilst living under autocracy. Although she was accepted as a daughter by Kamal’s mother and had a kitsch decor house given as a gift, her husband’s job with the Foreign Ministry created problems causing him to flee immediately and leave Lina and their children behind.
This is an intimate account of how a woman longing to escape Singapore for all it’s lacking finds herself in Libya at time of tyrannical madness. Gaddafi’s rippling effect is central to all those embedded in the story, particularly Kamal who’s heart beat for his country. In the early stages of the regime, we see the drastic change in perception of those who first believed Gaddafi to be prosperous.
The Libyan offers a unique perspective on living under one of the worst dictatorship’s of the 20th century for only a fraction of it’s existence. The book’s intensity is calmed by tales from Lina’s luxuriant upbringing and entertaining anecdotes from her time in Libya amongst other places.
Author Esther Kofod wrote the book as a passionate homage to the Libya she knew whilst living there years ago. As many do, she fell in love with the culture and the people, managing to sweep the political madness to one side. Well travelled with a good sense of humour, Ms Kofod fluently weaves a tale of romance with her own observations of Libya to produce this gripping novel.