Lakhous was born in 1970 in Algiers, Algeria, in a Berber family with nine siblings. He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Algiers. He also obtained a degree in cultural anthropology from the La Sapienza University in Rome with a thesis on the second generation of Muslim Arab immigrants in Italy.
Lakhous wrote his first book, titled The Bedbugs and the Pirates, in 1993. It was written in Algerian dialect and published in a bilingual Arabic-Italian text in 1999. In 1994, Lakhous began work as a reporter for the Algerian national radio. Shortly thereafter, he left for Italy following death threats from Islamists. From 1995, he worked in Italy as a cultural mediator, interpreter and translator in the area of immigration. In 2001, he wrote another Arabic language novel based on his early years in Rome, titled How to be Suckled by the Wolf Without Getting Bit. He then rewrote this in Italian, published as Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio in 2006, and receiving critical and popular acclaim. The book has been translated into Dutch, English, and French, and was made into a film in 2008.
Between 2003 and 2006, he was a journalist with the Adnkronos International news agency based in Rome. Lakhous is an editor of a new imprint, Shark/Gharb, that publishes Arabic translations of contemporary European works.
- Le cimici e il pirata. Rome: Arlem. 1999. p. 138. ISBN 978-88-86690-23-2.
- Come farti allattare dalla lupa senza che ti morda. Algiers: Al-ikhtilaf. 2003.
- Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio. Rome: Edizioni e/o. 2006. p. 189. ISBN 978-88-7641-716-0. (Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions, 2008, ISBN 978-1933372617)
- Divorzio all'islamica a viale Marconi. Rome: Edizioni e/o. 2010. p. 192. ISBN 978-88-7641-929-4. (Divorce Islamic Style, translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions, 2012, ISBN 978-1609450663)
- Un pirata piccolo piccolo. Rome: Edizioni e/o. 2011. p. 176. ISBN 978-88-6632-012-8.
- Contesa per un maialino italianissimo a San Salvario. Rome: Edizioni e/o. 2013. p. 160. ISBN 978-88-6632-338-9. (Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet, translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions, 2014, ISBN 978-1609451882)
- La zingarata della verginella di Via Ormea. Edizioni e/o, Roma. 2014. p. 160. ISBN 978-88-6632-521-5. (The Prank of the Good Little Virgin of Via Ormea, translated by Ann Goldstein, 2016, Europa Editions, ISBN 978-1609453091)
- On the quest to write in a third language. Amara Lakhous dreams of green cheese and being reborn into New York City. May 4, 2016. "Literary Hub".
In 2006, Lakhous won the Flaiano prize as well as the Racalmere-Leonardo Sciascia prize for Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio. He obtained the Prix des Libraires Algériens in 2008.
- Scott Goldberg (October 27, 2015). "Amara Lakhous speaks on European immigration". Cornell Chronicle.
- Silvia Scaramuzza (November 26, 2015). "Le ferite dell'Italia viste dagli occhi di Amara Lakhous". La Voce di New York (in Italian).
- Suzanne Ruta. "Scheherazade, C'est Moi? An Interview with Amara Lakhous". Words Without Borders. Retrieved January 28, 2016.