Amin Maalouf

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Amin Maalouf
Amin Maalouf par Claude Truong-Ngoc novembre 2013.jpg
Amin Maalouf by Claude Truong-Ngoc, 2013.
Born (1949-02-25) 25 February 1949 (age 66)
Beirut, Lebanon
Occupation Novelist
Language French
Notable works Leo the African, Rock of Tanios, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, and Samarkand

Amin Maalouf (Arabic: أمين معلوف‎, born 25 February 1949 in Beirut) is a Lebanese-born French[1] author. Has lived in France since 1976.[2] Although his native language is Arabic, he writes in French, and his works have been translated into many languages. He received the Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel Le rocher de Tanios (translated into English as The Rock of Tanios). He has also been awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in its 2010 edition. He was elected at the Académie française on 23 June 2011, on seat 29. Maalouf is the first Lebanese inducted as an academy immortal.[3] He filled the vacant member seat of the late Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist and ethnologist.[4]


Maalouf is the second of four children. His parents' families were from the Lebanese mountain village of Ain el Kabou. His parents married in Cairo in 1945, where Odette, his mother, was born of a Maronite Christian father from the village, who had left to work in Egypt, and his mother born in Turkey. Amin's father, Ruchdi, was from the Melkite Greek Catholic community. One of his ancestors was a priest whose son converted to become a Presbyterian parson. The parson's son (Maalouf's grandfather) was a "rationalist, anticlerical, probably a freemason, and refused to baptise his children".[citation needed] While the Protestant branch of the family sent their children to British or American schools, Maalouf's mother was a staunch Catholic who insisted on sending him to Collège Notre Dame de Jamhour- a French Jesuit school. He studied sociology at the Francophone Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut.

Maalouf’s first book, "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes,” examines the period from an Arab perspective.[3]

He worked as the director of the Beirut-based daily newspaper An-Nahar until the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, when he moved to Paris, which became his permanent home.

Besides novels, he has written four opera librettos and several works on non-fiction, of which 'Crusades through Arab Eyes' is probably the best known.[1]

In 2010 he received the Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Letters for his work, an intense mix of suggestive language, historic affairs in a Mediterranean mosaic of languages, cultures and religions and stories of tolerance and reconciliation.

Maalouf has been awarded honorary doctorates by the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), the University of Tarragona Rovira i Virgili (Spain) and the University of Evora (Portugal).[2]

Winning the Prix Goncourt[edit]

Francois Nourrissier, president of the Goncourt jury, said Maalouf was awarded the prize for his novel Le rocher de Tanios (The Tanios Rock), set in 19th-century Lebanon. The Goncourt pays a token $9 but guarantees the winner additional sales of up to 500,000 copies and media fame.

Maalouf, whose book is published by Grasset, won the prize with six votes, beating out Michel Braudeau, author of Pierrot mon ami (My Friend Pierrot), who received two votes, and other authors who received one vote apiece.[5] [6]

Works of fiction[edit]

Maalouf's novels are marked by his experiences of civil war and migration. Their characters are itinerant voyagers between lands, languages, and religions.

Opera librettos[edit]

Works of non-fiction[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Amin Maalouf", Modern Arab writers.
  2. ^ a b "About the author", with Amin Maalouf.
  3. ^ a b "Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf joins elite French Academy", The Daily Star, 15 June 2012.
  4. ^ Mazen Hayek / Free Tribune: Amin Maalouf and the Civilization of our Times (29 June 2011). Alarabiya.
  5. ^ Reuters (9 November 1993). "Amin Maalouf wins top French book award". Toronto Star.
  6. ^ Annie Coppermann, "Amin Maalouf, lauréat attendu du prix Goncourt" (in French), Les Echos (9 November 1993).
  7. ^ "Le palmarès" (in French). Académie Goncourt. Archived from the original on 6 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 

External links[edit]