Hisham Matar

The Weiss International Fellow in Literature and the Arts &
Adjunct Associate Professor in the English Department

Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Comparative Literature,  Asia and Middle East Cultures Department, and the Department of English.

Born in New York City to Libyan parents, Hisham Matar spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo and has lived most of his adult life in London. His debut novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and The Guardian First Book Award, and won numerous international prizes, including the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and a Commonwealth First Book Award. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was published to great acclaim in 2011. His prize-winning memoir, The Return, was published in 2016 and was the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Award, the Prix du Livre Etranger Inter & Le Journal du Dimanche, the Rathbones Folio Prize, and The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize. It was one of The New York Times' top 10 books of the year. Matar’s work has been translated into thirty languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Professor Matar is the founder and principal curator of The Barnard International Artists Series, a forum for considering the world through the works of living artists.

Academic Focus: 

Modernism, Romanticism, Literature of Exile, Translation


ENGL BC3117: Fiction Writing
ENGL BC3192: Exile and Estrangement in Global Literature

Awards & Honors: 

2014: In the Country of Men selected one of “10 best novels about Africa”, The Telegraph

2013: Blue Metropolis Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Literary Prize. This is a prize for a lifetime of substantial literary achievement by an Arab writer working in any genre and in any language. 

2012: Encore Award Finalist

2012: The Arab American National Museum Book Award Finalist

2011-12: Anatomy of a Disappearance named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Toronto Sun, and the Irish Times.

2012: ‘Naima’, a short story published in the New Yorker, was selected for the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012.

2010: Booker Trust selection for 5,000 copies to be given for free to students at the University of East Anglia

2007: The New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year

2007: The New York Times Best Sellers List

2007: The Arab American National Museum Book Award Winner

2007: The Glen Dimplex New Writers Award (Ireland) Winner

2007: Premio Internazionale Flaiano (Italy) Winner

2007: Premio Vallombrosa Gregor von Rezzori (Italy) Winner

2007: National Book Circle Critics Finalist in Fiction

2007: The Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize Winner

2007: The Commonwealth First Book Award Europe & South Asia Winner

2007: The Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award Finalist

2006: The Guardian First Book Award Finalist

2006: The Man Booker Prize Finalist

2005: Arts Council England, Great Britain, writing grant

Professional Affiliations: 

2013: Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

2013: Academician for the Folio Prize

2012 – 2014: Trustee of English PEN

2011: Chair of Judges for the Caine Prize for African Writing

2010: Elected to Council of the Caine Prize for African Writing

2008: Judge for the Charles Pick Fellowship

2008: Judge for the Caine Prize for African Writing

2007 – 2010: Board of Trustees of the International Prize For Arabic Fiction


2013: Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

2012: Distinguished Visiting Writer of The Department of English and Comparative Literature at The American University in Cairo, Egypt

2012: Booker Prize Foundation Fellow at Mansfield College, University of Oxford

2012: Booker Prize Foundation Fellow at Newcastle University

2012: Fellowship at Wooster College, Ohio

2012: Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, International Writing Program, University of Iowa

2011: Zell International Writer in Residence at the University of Michigan

2011: Weiss Foundation International Fellow in Literature and the Arts and Adjunct Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the English Department, Barnard College, New York

2010: Booker Prize Foundation Fellow at University of East Anglia

2010: ‘First Story’ Writer-In-Residence   

2008: Mary Amelia Cummins Harvey Visiting Fellow at Girton College, University of Cambridge

Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

Selected Conferences and Presentations

  • 2017: Hay Festival Cartagena, Colombia
  • 2017: Cologne Literature Festival, Germany
  • 2017: Chagword Literature Festival, England
  • 2017: Libri Come, Rome, Italy
  • 2017: Incroci di Civiltà, literary festival in Venice, Italy
  • 2017: Sydney Writer’s Festival, Australia
  • 2016: The New Yorker Festival, “Home Truths: Writing About Family” with Tess Hadley, Akhil Sharma, and Gary Shteyngart
  • 2016: Vancouver Writer’s Festival, Canada
  • 2016: Toronto International Festival of Authors, Canada
  • 2016: LA Public Library Aloud, Los Angeles
  • 2015: Jaipur Literature Festival, India

Selected Lectures

  • 2017: British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) annual lecture at The School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
  • 2017: University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK
  • 2016: University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
  • 2016: Hunter College, New York, USA
  • 2016: University of Arkansas, USA
  • 2016: University of Manchester, UK
  • 2016: University of Newcastle, UK
  • 2012: Wooster College, Ohio, USA
  • 2012: University of Iowa, USA
  • 2012: The American University in Cairo, Egypt
  • 2012: Mansfield College, University of Oxford, UK


The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between (Memoir), 2016

Anatomy Of A Disappearance (Novel), 2011

In The Country Of Men (Novel), 2006


Selected Short Stories

“The Boy’s Mother”, The anthology Four Letter Word: New Love Letters (Chatto & Windus, 2007);  Il Sole 24 Ore (Italian), 2017

“The Fire The Fire”, BBC Radio 4 (2013)

 “Naima”,  The New Yorker (2011); The O. Henry Prize Stories anthology (Penguin Random House, 2012)

“Embedded or The Silent Countenance of Suleiman al Dewani”, The Guardian (2011)


Selected Introductions

Introduction to a new Italian translation by Anna Nadotti of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Einaudi (2014)

Introduction to artist Claire Kerr’s exhibition catalogue (2013)

Introduction to Ivan Turgenev’s On The Eve Ivan Turgenev, The Folio Society (2011)

Introduction to Tayeb Salih’s The Wedding Of Zein And Other Stories, New York Review Books (2010)


Essays, Articles, and Reviews

Hisham Matar contributes to:

The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The TLS, The London Review of Books, El País (Spain), The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland), La Repubblica (Italy)Internazionale (Italy), Al Shorouk  (Egypt)and other periodicals .


320 Milbank Hall
messages: 212-854-2116

Office Hours: 

TW 4-6


M.A. Design Futures (Architecture), Goldsmiths College, University of London

In the News

The Geschwister-Scholl-Preis recognizes one book each year that "shows intellectual independence."

Professor Hisham Matar and Professor Rachel Eisendrath discuss Matar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir "The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between."

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