Anthony Burgess wrote that Graham Greene's
ability to encapsulate the essence of an exotic setting in a single book is exemplified in The Heart of the Matter (1948); his contemporary Evelyn Waugh stated that the West Africa of that book replaced the true remembered West Africa of his own experience.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Heart of the Matter 40th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. Evelyn Waugh also mentioned that he admired the book.