He was born in New York in 1970 to Libyan parents.
His father, Jaballa Matar, is a diplomatic representative of the Libyan delegation to the United Nations.
In 1973 he returned to Tripoli, where he lived until 1979, the year in which Gaddafi’s political persecution of his father, leader of the opposition to the regime, forced him and his family to seek refuge in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1986 he moved to London where he completed his studies and graduated in architecture from Goldsmiths College.
In 1990, while in the British capital, Egyptian secret service agents kidnapped his father in Cairo to hand him over to the Libyan regime, who jailed him in the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, from where he would never be found again.
This tragic disappearance will decisively influence Hisham Matar’s writing.
In 2006 he published his first novel In the Country of Men (Italian translation: Nessuno al mondo, 2006) which received great public and critical acclaim, was selected for the Man Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Award for Europe and South Asia (2007), the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje (2007), the Gregor von Rezzori Prize (2007), the Flaiano International Prize (2007).
In 2011 Anatomy of a Disappearance (Italian translation: Anatomia di una scomparsa, 2011) was released and later, in 2016, The Return. Fathers, Sons and the Land in between (Italian translation: Il ritorno. Padri, figli e la terra fra di loro, 2017) with which he won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, the PEN / Jean Stein Book Award, the Rathbones Folio Prize.
He is the author, together with the illustrator Gianluca Buttolo, of the children’s book Il libro di Dot (2017).
His latest work is A Month in Siena (Italian translation: Un punto di approdo, 2020).
His books are translated into over thirty languages.
Matar collaborates with several international newspapers and periodicals including The New York Times, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Asharq al-Awsat, Internazionale, The New Yorker.
He is a member of the Royal Society of Literature and teaches Professional Practice in Comparative Literature, Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures and English at Barnard College / Columbia University in the United States.
He currently lives in London with his wife Diana, a renowned photographer.
In the Country of Men. London: Viking, 2006.
Nessuno al mondo. Torino: Einaudi, 2008.
Anatomy of a Disappearance. London: Viking, 2011.
Anatomia di una scomparsa. Torino: Einaudi, 2013.
The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between. London: Viking, 2016.
Il Ritorno: Padri, figli e la terra fra di loro. Torino: Einaudi, 2017.
Il libro di Dot. Milano: ReNoir Comics, 2017.
A Month in Siena. London: Viking, 2019.
Un punto di approdo. Torino: Einaudi, 2020.