Monday, October 12, 2009

Hisham Matar

Hisham Matar (born 1970) [1] is a Libyan author. His debut novel In the Country of Men was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize.[1]. Matar’s essays have appeared in the Asharq Alawsat, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and The New York Times. He currently lives and writes in London.


Hisham Matar was born in New York City. He spent his childhood in America with his Libyan parents while his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations. When he was three years old, his family went back to Tripoli, Libya, where he spent his early childhood. Due to political persecutions by the Gaddafi regime, in 1979 his father was accused of being a reactionary to the Libyan revolutionary regime and was forced to flee the country with his family. They lived in exile in Egypt where Hisham and his brother completed their schooling in Cairo.[2][3] In 1986 he moved to London, United Kingdom, where he continued his studies and received a degree in architecture. In 1990, while he was still in London, his father, a political dissident, was kidnapped in Cairo. He has been reported missing ever since. However, in 1996, the family received two letters with his father's handwriting stating that he was kidnapped by the Egyptian secret police, handed over to the Libyan regime, and imprisoned in the notorious Abu Salim prison in the heart of Tripoli. Since that date, there has been no more information about his father's whereabouts.

Hisham Matar began writing poetry and experimented in theatre. He began writing his first novel In the Country of Men in early 2000. In the autumn of 2005, the publishers Penguin International signed a two-book deal with him, and the novel was a huge success.

Awards and recognition

His first novel, In the Country of Men, was published in July 2006 and received accolades from such notable figures as J M Coetzee, Anne Michaels and Nadeem Aslam.[4] It went on to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.[5], and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2006.[6] It has won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the 2007 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Italian Premio Vallombrosa Gregor von Rezzori, the Italian Premio Internazionale Flaiano (Sezione Letteratura) and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. "In the Country of Men" has been translated into 22 languages.

In 2008 Hisham Matar became the Mary Amelia Cummins Harvey Visiting Fellow Commoner at Girton College, University of Cambridge, England.


* In the Country of Men, Viking-Penguin, 2006, ISBN 0-670-91639-0

See also;


1. ^ a b Booker Prize Foundation (14 September 2006). "The Man Booker Prize 2006 Shortlist".
. Retrieved 2006-09-14.

2. ^ "Hisham Matar". Penguin UK.,,1000070485,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-16.

3. ^ "Hisham Matar". The Guardian. 29 June 2006.,,1808361,00.html. Retrieved 2006-06-29.

4. ^ "In the Country of Men". The Independent. Retrieved 2006-09-24.

5. ^ "The Man Booker Award". The Man & Booker groups. Retrieved 2006-10-10.

6. ^ "The Guardian First Book Award". The Guardian.,,1855769,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-10.

External links
Man Booker Prize for Fiction

P. H. Newby (1969) · Bernice Rubens (1970) · V. S. Naipaul (1971) · John Berger (1972) · James Gordon Farrell (1973) · Nadine Gordimer / Stanley Middleton (1974) · Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1975) · David Storey (1976) · Paul Scott (1977) · Iris Murdoch (1978) · Penelope Fitzgerald (1979) · William Golding (1980)

Salman Rushdie (1981) · Thomas Keneally (1982) · J. M. Coetzee (1983) · Anita Brookner (1984) · Keri Hulme (1985) · Kingsley Amis (1986) · Penelope Lively (1987) · Peter Carey (1988) · Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) · A. S. Byatt (1990) · Ben Okri (1991) · Michael Ondaatje / Barry Unsworth (1992) · Roddy Doyle (1993) · James Kelman (1994) · Pat Barker (1995) · Graham Swift (1996) · Arundhati Roy (1997) · Ian McEwan (1998) · J. M. Coetzee (1999) · Margaret Atwood (2000)

Peter Carey (2001) · Yann Martel (2002) · DBC Pierre (2003) · Alan Hollinghurst (2004) · John Banville (2005) · Kiran Desai (2006) · Anne Enright (2007) · Aravind Adiga (2008) · Hilary Mantel (2009)

In the Country of Men

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In the Country of Men
First edition cover
Author Hisham Matar
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date 6 July 2006
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 256 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 978-0670916399 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC Number 65468307

In the Country of Men is the debut novel from Libyan author Hisham Matar, first published in 2006 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books. It was nominated for the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award. It has so far been translated into 22 languages and was awarded the 2007 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize as well as a host of international literary prizes. The book was also nominated for the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award in the U.S.

Plot summary

The books follows the plight of Suleiman, a nine-year-old boy living in Tripoli in Libya, after his father is forced to flee the family household by Gaddafi's state police due to his involvement in anti-State activities. The only people he has to turn to are his neighbour Kareem, his alcoholic mother, and his father's best friend Moosa.


  • Suleiman el Dewani - the nine-year-old narrator
  • Faraj el Dewani "Baba" - Suleiman's father
  • Najwa "Mama" - Suleiman's mother
  • Moosa - Baba's best friend
  • Kareem - Suleiman's next-door neighbour and best friend
  • Ustath Rashid - Kareem's father and a co-conspirator of Baba; he has already been arrested when the book's narrative begins
  • Sharief - a member of the Revolutionary Committee hunting Faraj el Dewani


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