Hisham Nitar's semi-autobiographical debut novel In the Country of Men was short-listed for the 2006 Mann Booker Prize.
Matar was born in New York City in 1970 to Libyan parents and spent his childhood in Tripoli, Libya, and later in Cairo, Egypt. He has lived in Great Britain since 1986.
Matar's father, a critic of the Libyan regime, was arrested in 1990. Matar has been unable to find out what happened to him.