Amin Maalouf – Lebanon & France

He said: “Before Fez, I had never set foot in a city, never observed the swarming activity of the alleyways, never felt that powerful breath on my face, like the wind from the sea, heavy with cries and smells. Of course, I was born in Granada, the stately capital of the kingdom of Andalus, but it was already late in the century, and I knew it only in its death agonies, emptied of its citizens and its souls, humiliated, faded, and when I left our quarter of al-Baisin it was no longer anything for my family but a vast encampment, hostile and ruined”.

Amin Maalouf - Lebanon one.jpg
Amin Maalouf – Lebanon & France

He is Lebanese journalist and novelist, whose native language was Arabic but who writes in French. Most of Maalouf’s books have a historical setting, and like Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, and Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Maalouf mixes fascinating historical facts with fantasy and philosophical ideas. In an interview Maalouf has said that his role as a writer is to create “positive myths”. Maalouf’s works, written with the skill of a master storyteller, offer a sensitive view of the values and attitudes of different cultures in the Middle East, Africa and Mediterranean world. (Read all on Pegasos).

Maalouf has regularly used fantasy elements in his novels, but The First Century after Beatrice (1992) was his first full-length futuristic tale, in which female birth has become increasingly rare due to a new fertility drug. The scarcity of girls and women upsets the balance of sexes, and baby girls are kidnapped to be sold in countries where there is a shortage. Maalouf touches on several themes – the antagonism between the rich, technologically advanced Western countries and the poor South, corrupt science and sexual discrimination. “And the journalists? Where does his passion lie? Is it solely in the observation of human butterflies, human spiders, their hunting and their love affairs?

He was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His father, Ruchdi Maalouf, was a writer, teacher, and journalist. He attended Jesuit schools in Beirut and after studying sociology and economics, Maalouf continued the long family tradition and became a journalist. He worked for the leading Beirut daily an-Nahar and travelled in India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, and Algeria, often covering wars and other conflicts. In 1975, civil war begun in Lebanon. The horrors of war entered Maalouf’s own homeland and in 1977 he emigrated with his wife and three children to Paris, where they have lived ever since. (Read much more on his website).

Amin Maalouf, une figure de l’édition française: Le français est la langue d’écriture d’Amin Maalouf, grand auteur de la littérature francophone contemporaine. Il a reçu le prix littéraire le plus convoité en France, le Goncourt, pour son roman Le Rocher de Tanios (1993). Contraint à l’exil en raison de la guerre civile qui a ensanglanté son pays, le Liban, pendant presque deux décennies, ce journaliste de métier s’est établi en France au milieu des années 1970. Polyglotte, il a choisi d’écrire en français, mais c’est dans le passé mythique et réel de son Orient natal qu’il puise le matériau de ses romans : Léon l’Africain (1986), Samarcande (1988), Les Jardins de lumière (1991), Les Echelles du levant (1996), Le Périple de Baldassare (2000). Plus autobiographique que ses précédents ouvrages, son nouveau livre, Origines, retrace l’exil et la dispersion des siens dans le monde. Conteur hors pair, Maalouf sait broder des histoires qui, même si elles se déroulent dans le passé, entrent en résonance avec les interrogations du présent : sans doute le secret du succès phénoménal que connaissent ses livres. (Voir sur

See here his Books:


Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone, based on the life of French philosopher Simone Weil, was commissioned with Peter Sellars’s New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, the Barbican Centre in London, and Lincoln Center. It will get its world premiere in Vienna in November before coming to Los Angeles in January 2007. The libretto is by Amin Maalouf, who has written two operas with Saariaho; Salonen, another frequent collaborator, will conduct. (PlayBillArts). l

Intercultural Dialogue – Fantasy or Reality?;

Hiking trail to link Lebanon’s north-south axis.

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