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Amin Maalouf

Amin Maalouf
Amin Maalouf in 2013
Amin Maalouf in 2013
Born (1949-02-25) 25 February 1949 (age 75)
Beirut, Lebanon
OccupationWriter, scholar and novelist, Perpetual Secretary of the Académie Française (elected September 28, 2023)
Notable worksLeo Africanus, The Rock of Tanios, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Samarkand

Amin Maalouf (French: [maluf]; Arabic: أمين معلوف Arabic pronunciation: [maʕˈluːf]; born 25 February 1949) is a Lebanese-born French[1] author who has lived in France since 1976.[2] Although his native language is Arabic, he writes in French, and his works have been translated into over 40 languages.

Of his several works of nonfiction, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes is probably the best known.[1] He received the Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel The Rock of Tanios, as well as the 2010 Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. He is a member of the Académie française[3][4] and was elected its Perpetual Secretary[5] on 28 September 2023.


Baskinta, next to the village of Machrah where Maalouf's father came from.

Maalouf was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and grew up in the Badaro cosmopolitan neighbourhood,[6] the second of four children. His parents had different cultural backgrounds. His father was a Greek of the Melkite Catholic community[7] of the village of Machrah,[8] near Baskinta in Ain el Qabou. His mother, Odette Ghossein, is Lebanese from the Metn Village of Ain el Kabou, and of Turkish descent. She was born in Egypt and lived there for many years before coming back to Lebanon; she lived in France until her passing in 2021 at the age of 100 years.

Maalouf's mother was a staunch Maronite 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.

He is the uncle of trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.[9]


Maalouf worked as the director of An-Nahar, a Beirut-based daily newspaper, until the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, when he moved to Paris, which became his permanent home. Maalouf's first book, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1983), examines the period based on contemporaneous Arabic sources.[3]

Along with his nonfiction work, he has written four texts for musical compositions and numerous novels.

His book Un fauteuil sur la Seine briefly recounts the lives of those who preceded him in seat #29 as a member of the Académie française.[10][4]


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

Maalouf, 16 February 2016

In 1993, Maalouf was awarded the Prix Goncourt for his novel The Rock of Tanios (French: Le rocher de Tanios), set in 19th-century Lebanon.[11][12][13] In 2004, the original, French edition of his Origins: A Memoir (Origines, 2004) won the Prix Méditerranée.[14]

In 2010 he received the Spanish Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 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. He was elected a member of the Académie française on 23 June 2011 to fill seat 29, left vacant by the death of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.[4][15] Maalouf is the first person of Lebanese heritage to receive that honour.[3]

In 2016, he won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for "Cultural Personality of the Year", the premier category with a prize of 1 million dirhams (approx. US$272,000).[16] In the same year, the University of Venice Ca' Foscari awarded him the Bauer-Incroci di civiltà prize for fostering cultural dialogue between civilizations.[17]

In 2020, he was awarded the National Order of Merit by the French government. He was given the honour by President Emmanuel Macron.[18]

In 2021, Maalouf was elected a Royal Society of Literature International Writer.[19]

Honours and decorations

Ribbon bar Country Honour
 Finland Knight First class of the Order of the Lion of Finland
 France Chevalier of the Legion of Honour
Ordre national du Merite GO ribbon  France Grand officier of the National Order of Merit
 France Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
 Lebanon Grand Cordon of the National Order of the Cedar
 Monaco Officier of the Order of Cultural Merit (Monaco)



Maalouf's novels are marked by his experiences of civil war and migration. Their characters are itinerant voyagers between lands, languages, and religions and he prefers to write about "our past".

Original English translation
1986 Léon l'Africain 1992 Leo Africanus, translated by Peter Sluglett. ISBN 1-56131-022-0
1988 Samarcande 1994 Samarkand, trans. Russell Harris. ISBN 1-56656-293-7.
1991 Les jardins de lumière 1996 The Gardens of Light, trans. Dorothy S. Blair. ISBN 1-56656-248-1.
1992 Le Premier siècle après Béatrice 1993 The First Century after Beatrice, trans. Dorothy S. Blair. ISBN 0-7043-7051-4.
1993 Le Rocher de Tanios[20] 1994 The Rock of Tanios, trans. Dorothy S. Blair ISBN 0-8076-1365-7.
1996 Les Échelles du Levant 1996 Ports of Call, trans. Alberto Manguel. ISBN 1-86046-890-X.
2000 Le Périple de Baldassare 2002 Balthasar's Odyssey, trans. Barbara Bray. ISBN 1-55970-702-X.
2012 Les Désorientés 2020 The Disoriented, trans. Frank Wynne. ISBN 978-1-64286-058-0.
2020 Nos frères inattendus 2023 On the Isle of Antioch, trans. Natasha Lehrer. ISBN 978-1-64286-134-1.


Original English translation
1983 Les Croisades vues par les Arabes 1986 The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. ISBN 0-8052-0898-4
1998 Les Identités meurtrières 2000 In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, translated by Barbara Bray. ISBN 0-14-200257-7.[21]
2004 Origines 2008. Origins: A Memoir, translated by Catherine Temerson. ISBN 978-0-374-22732-6.[22]
2009 Le Dérèglement du monde 2011 Disordered World: Setting a New Course for the Twenty-First Century, translated by George Miller. ISBN 978-1-60819-584-8
2019 Le Naufrage des civilisations 2020 Adrift: How Our World Lost Its Way, translated by Frank Wynne. ISBN 978-1-64286-075-7
2023 Le Labyrinthe des égarés. L’Occident et ses adversaires - ISBN 9782246830436


All Maalouf's librettos have been written for the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.


  1. ^ a b "Amin Maalouf" Archived 27 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Modern Arab writers.
  2. ^ a b "About the author", with Amin Maalouf.
  3. ^ a b c "Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf joins elite French Academy", The Daily Star, 15 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Amin MAALOUF." Académie Française.
  5. ^ "Amin Maalouf élu secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie française". L'Orient-Le Jour. 28 September 2023. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  6. ^ Battah, Habib. 11 November 2012. "Amin Maalouf: a writer’s bedroom." Beirut Report.
  7. ^ Esposito, Claudia (2013), "Of Chronological Others and Alternative Histories: Amin Maalouf and Fawzi Mellah", The Narrative Mediterranean: Beyond France and the Maghreb, Lexington Books, p. 36, ISBN 978-0739168226, born into a culturally composite family - his mother was Egyptian of Turkish origin, his father a Greek Catholic in 1949 in Lebanon...
  8. ^ Jean-Claude Raspiengeas (20 April 2019). "Amin Maalouf, un Levantin désorienté". La Croix (in French).
  9. ^ Olivier Nuc; Valérie Sasportas (3 March 2017). "Qui est Ibrahim Maalouf trompettiste dans la tourmente?". Le Figaro.
  10. ^ Un fauteuil sur la Seine : Quatre siècles d'histoire de France, Grasset, 2016 (ISBN 978-2-246-86167-6)
  11. ^ Dia, Hamidou (1995). "Amin Maalouf, écrivain libanais, Prix Goncourt 1993." Nuit Blanche (59):76–80.
  12. ^ Reuters (9 November 1993). "Amin Maalouf wins top French book award." Archived 16 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine Toronto Star.
  13. ^ Coppermann, Annie (9 November 1993). "Amin Maalouf, lauréat attendu du prix Goncourt" (in French). Les Echos.
  14. ^ "Prix Méditerranée". Prix. Archived from the original on 15 April 2022. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Amin Maalouf entre à l'Académie française". Le Monde. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  16. ^ Ghazal, Rym (2 May 2016). "Cultural Personality of the Year Award winner Amin Maalouf: 'I prefer to write about our past'". The National.
  17. ^ "Incroci di civiltà, torna il festival di letteratura". (in Italian). 26 March 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  18. ^ McFarlane, Nyree (March 2020). "Lebanese author Amin Maalouf awarded National Order of Merit in France". The National. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Inaugural RSL International Writers Announced". Royal Society of Literature. 30 November 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  20. ^ "Le palmarès" (in French). Académie Goncourt. Archived from the original on 6 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  21. ^ Maalouf, Amin. [1998] 1998. "Deadly Identities," translated by B. Caland. Al Jadid 4(25).
  22. ^ Maalouf, Amin. [2004] 2008. Origins: A Memoir, translated by C. Temerson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-22732-6. Preview via Google Books.
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Amin Maalouf
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