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  • Published: 16 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241409497
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $34.99

My Friends

From the Pulitzer-prize winning author of THE RETURN




An intensely moving novel about three friends living in political exile and the emotional homeland that deep friendships can provide - from the Booker-shortlisted, Pulitzer prize-winning author

Khaled and Mustafa meet at university in Edinburgh: two Libyan eighteen-year-olds expecting to return home after their studies. In a moment of recklessness and courage, they travel to London to join a demonstration in front of the Libyan embassy. When government officials open fire on protestors in broad daylight, both friends are wounded, and their lives forever changed.

Over the years that follow, Khaled, Mustafa and their friend Hosam, a writer, are bound together by their shared history. If friendship is a space to inhabit, theirs becomes small and inhospitable when a revolution in Libya forces them to choose between the lives they have created in London and the lives they left behind.

  • Published: 16 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241409497
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

Hisham Matar

Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. His first novel, In the Country of Men, was published in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US. It won six international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book award for Europe and South Asia, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the inaugural Arab American Book Award. It has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Hisham Matar lives in London.

Also by Hisham Matar

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Praise for My Friends

Hisham Matar's MY FRIENDS recounts an exile's life shattered by violence, yet sustained, fiercely if complicatedly, by friendship. An unforgettable novel -- wise, urgent and profound -- from one of our era's great writers.

Claire Messud

It is impossible to describe the profound depth and beauty of this book. MY FRIENDS is a breathtaking novel, every page a miracle and an affirmation. If there is a language of exile, MY FRIENDS is what it sounds like: exquisite and painful, compassionate and unflinching, and above all, overwhelming in its boundless hope that within exile rests a path towards a different kind of return. One that leads us back to ourselves. Hisham is one of our greatest writers, how lucky we are to be in his midst.

Maaza Mengiste, author of THE SHADOW KING, shortlisted for the Booker Prize

My Friends is Matar's most political novel, but also an intimate meditation on friendship and love and everything in between. It is deeply affecting, generous and wise, and all these virtues come in writing of extraordinary elegance, with one of those voices that you want to listen to for the rest of your life.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez

I have always admired Matar's tender and compassionate but equally strong and compelling voice

Elif Shafak

My Friends is a brilliant novel about innocence and experience, about friendship, family and exile. It makes clear, once more, that Hisham Matar is a supremely talented novelist.

Colm Toibin

'I could not love this book more. Reflective, compelling, deeply tender at times, there are surprising shifts and turns and moments of utter brilliance where new understanding blooms. A walk across London from King’s Cross Station to Shepherd's Bush gives rise to memories of a life diverted by a moment of political action. About friendship, exile, belonging, lives lived and not lived, and Libya's recent past, London emerges as a place of refuge, a transitory half-home even after three decades, a stepping stone. As soon as I finished, I started again beguiled by Matar’s long, sinuous sentences and enlivened by my new knowledge of what it was all about, my heart moving in my chest. My Friends is the most beautiful, complete, masterful novel I have read in a long time. Read it.'

Priscilla Morris, author of the Women's Prize shortlisted BLACK BUTTERFLIES

I loved this sweeping yet intimate, powerful yet subtle tale of Libyan exiles in London and the way politics shapes lives.

The Bookseller

Tender, precise, and incredibly moving, MY FRIENDS is a rare novel, holding so much of the human heart that it is at times unbearably real. It’s impossible to read this book without feeling a renewed connection to the world and all its intricate sorrow and love.

Sean Hewitt, author of ALL DOWN DARKNESS WIDE

My Friends is quite possibly Hisham Matar’s best work yet, and that’s saying something. A quiet detonation of a novel, this masterful inquiry into the nature of friendship, exile and place is not so much to be read as lived through. The depth of thought, the unflinchingly honest confrontation with loss and longing, is there on every page, in every moment. Very few writers alive can converse with negative space the way Matar does, and My Friends is stunning, beautiful proof.

Omar El Akkad, author of AMERICAN WAR and WHAT STRANGE PARADISE

In January, we kick things off with My Friends (Viking) by Hisham Matar, a powerful story of friendship and loss. Khaled and Mustafa are wounded by government agents during a protest at the Libyan embassy in London. The pair find themselves torn between the comforts of their life in the UK and the horrors of a civil war at home

Observer

This novel is equally (as The Return) delicate, intellectually and emotionally, and equally bold in its formal arrangement…the book is artfully paced. Long, mellifluous, meditative sentences are punctuated by short ones of bell-like clarity…this is a book about exile and violence and grief, but it is above all – as the title tells us – a study in friendship

Guardian

Meditative yet propulsive – as well as structurally inventive – the narrative puts us in Khaled’s mind as he walks across his adopted city while reflecting on youth, exile and the flashpoints of Libya’s recent history

Mail on Sunday, Anthony Cummins

The first Booker contender of 2024... a deeply touching, beautifully composed book

Sunday Times

Poignant and quietly suspenseful... Readers encountering Matar for the first time will find in "My Friends" a masterly literary meditation on his lifelong themes. For those who already know his work, the effect is amplified tenfold.

New York Times

Exploring identity, family, friendship and exile in a strange land, Matar has produced a work of emotional depth

Radio Times

A moving study of friendship and the effects on a person of living in exile

The Gloss

A vivid, finely crafted story about home and exile, family and friendship, loss and rebirth. The old adage that fiction is truer than fact comes to mind... an engaging, symphonic novel of overlapping lives and loyalties'

Irish Times

What a pleasure and relief that one of the first novels of the new year should be such a success - and in the face of very high expectations

Financial Times

Part historical fiction, part cultural reflection, this is a story about the way exile calcifies the heart into an organ of brittle longing... a profound celebration of the sustaining power of friendship, of the ways we mold ourselves against the indentations of those few people whom fate presses against us

Washington Post

Riveting and humane... At the core of My Friends is a powerful juxtaposition of loneliness and camaraderie, self-reliance and dependence, which defines the outline of exile... [Matar] shows us with masterful command how life happens at the intersection of the personal and political, what we can control and what we cannot.

Atlantic

A profound celebration of the sustaining power of friendship, of the ways we mold ourselves against the indentations of those few people whom fate presses against us

Washington Post

Matar weighs... complexities with tremendous sensitivity, and My Friends is not only indispensable for a full understanding of Libyan émigrés but is, more generally, a great novel of exile

Wall Street Journal

Dazzling...a personal, deeply felt work...tightly structured and controlled, looping back and forth through time and memory, building on itself in a process of gradual expansion and revelation

Toronto Star

I have always admired Matar's tender and compassionate but equally strong and compelling voice

Elif Shafak

My Friends is Matar's most political novel, but also an intimate meditation on friendship and love and everything in between. It is deeply affecting, generous and wise, and all these virtues come in writing of extraordinary elegance, with one of those voices that you want to listen to for the rest of your life.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Hisham Matar's MY FRIENDS recounts an exile's life shattered by violence, yet sustained, fiercely if complicatedly, by friendship. An unforgettable novel -- wise, urgent and profound -- from one of our era's great writers.

Claire Messud

It is impossible to describe the profound depth and beauty of this book. MY FRIENDS is a breathtaking novel, every page a miracle and an affirmation. If there is a language of exile, MY FRIENDS is what it sounds like: exquisite and painful, compassionate and unflinching, and above all, overwhelming in its boundless hope that within exile rests a path towards a different kind of return. One that leads us back to ourselves. Hisham is one of our greatest writers, how lucky we are to be in his midst.

Maaza Mengiste, author of THE SHADOW KING, shortlisted for the Booker Prize