Matar, Hisham 1970-
Matar, Hisham 1970-
Born 1970, in New York, NY; married. Education: Attended Goldsmith's College.
Shortlisted for Man Booker Prize, 2006, for In the Country of Men.
In the Country of Men (novel), Dial Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including the Independent.
In his semiautobiographical novel, In the Country of Men, Hisham Matar explores how Libyan ruler Omar Khadafy came on the scene to drastically alter life in Libya, including the lives of the el-Dawani family. Narrated by Suleiman el-Dawani ten years after the fact, the novel depicts the then nine-year-old Suleiman's take on Khadafy government, his father's outspoken opposition that puts the entire family in jeopardy, and the kidnapping and disappearance of a friend's father (an episode that reflects the real-life kidnapping and disappearance of Matar's own father). In the process, Suleiman finds himself becoming part of the world of violence. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Lorraine Adams called In the Country of Men an "exceptional first novel" and went on to note that the author has produced "something rare in contemporary fiction: a sophisticated storybook inhabited by archetypes, told with a 9-year-old's logic, written with the emphatic and memorable lyricism of verse."
Other reviewers also generously praised Matar's first novel. Pankaj Mishra, writing in the New York Review of Books, commented: "Matar's novel abounds in unusual emotional situations. Certainly few of its readers are likely to live next door to people who face torture and execution. Yet in his account there is no moral grandstanding, no glamour of victimhood. He seems to know that life goes on in the most intolerable circumstances—the terrible knowledge that can also be a consolation—and, confronted by extreme inhumanity, he notices gestures of everyday kindness and dignity." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Matar wrests beauty from searing dread and loss."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book World, February 4, 2007, Ron Charles, review of In the Country of Men, p. 7.
Booklist, December 1, 2006, Deborah Donovan, review of In the Country of Men, p. 22.
Bookseller, May 26, 2006, Benedicte Page, "A Tale Told in Exile: Debut Novelist Hisham Matar Tells Benedicte Page about His Libyan Childhood," p. 25.
Entertainment Weekly, February 2, 2007, Jennifer Reese, review of In the Country of Men, p. 129.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 10, 2006, Mary-Lou Zeitoun, review of In the Country of Men.
Guardian (London, England), June 29, 2006, Stephen Moss, review of In the Country of Men; July 29, 2006, Kamila Shamsie, review of In the Country of Men.
Independent (London, England), September 24, 2006, Benedicte Page, review of In the Country of Men.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of In the Country of Men, p. 1095.
Library Journal, November 15, 2006, Evelyn Beck, review of In the Country of Men, p. 58.
Marie Claire, February, 2007, review of In the Country of Men, p. 46.
New Statesman, July 31, 2006, Samir el-Youssef, review of In the Country of Men, p. 58.
New York Review of Books, April 12, 2007, Pankaj Mishra, review of In the Country of Men.
New York Times Book Review, March 4, 2007, Lorraine Adams, review of In the Country of Men.
Publishers Weekly, October 30, 2006, review of In the Country of Men, p. 34.
Spectator, September 9, 2006, Jonathan Keates, review of In the Country of Men.
Times Literary Supplement, August 4, 2006, Andrew van der Vlies, review of In the Country of Men, p. 21.
BBC News,http://news.bbc.co.uk/ (September 14, 2006), "Booker Profile: Hisham Matar."
Qantara.de,http://www.qantara.de/ (May 21, 2007), Georg Patzer, review of In the Country of Men.