French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf to head prestigious French Academy

French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf to head prestigious French Academy
2 min read
29 September, 2023
Renowned French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf becomes the permanent secretary of the prestigious French Academy, marking a significant milestone for his prolific literary career and contributions to the French language and culture.
Maalouf was elected to the French Academy in 2011, occupying the seat previously held by Claude Lévi-Strauss [Getty]

French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf has been elected as permanent secretary of the French Academy (Académie Française), a prestigious custodian and promoter of the French language.

The writer, 74, will be the 33rd person to occupy the post of "perpetual secretary" since the body's founding under King Louis XIII in 1635.

Maalouf, the recipient of the 1993 Goncourt Prize for his novel The Rock of Tanios, has authored 14 novels and essays, including Leo the African (1986), Samarkand (1988), In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong (1998), Origins: A Memoir (2004), The Disoriented (2012), and his latest work, The Sinking of Civilizations, published in 2019.

He was elected to the French Academy in 2011, taking a seat previously held by Claude Lévi-Strauss.

He has since been highly active in the institution contributing to the near-completion of its 9th dictionary - which the academy had been working on since 1986.

In Lebanon, several political figures praised his election.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati congratulated Maalouf in comments cited by the national news agency NNA.

"I, like all other Lebanese people in Lebanon, France, and around the world, received the news of your election as the Secretary-General of the French Academy with great pride," Mikati said.

"Your diverse cultural background and profound human experiences, which have enriched your writings and your role in promoting the French language and the values it carries, have contributed to your well-deserved position among the elite."

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri took to X, formerly Twitter, to congratulate Maalouf.

"Amin Maalouf's rock lights up the French Academy, and the flame of Lebanon is extinguished by hatred and political failure," he said, alluding to the political crisis that has gripped the country since 2019.

Renowned Lebanese journalist Ricardo Karam lauded the appointment, saying it was "finally, news that warms the heart!".

"Congratulations to Lebanon and France, and congratulations to the Francophone cultural scene," he wrote on X.

While Lebanese superstar Wael Kfoury wrote on X: "This achievement reflects the extent of appreciation and respect of the literary and cultural community for [Maalouf's] great contribution to the world of literature."

Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Waleeed Bukhari, also congratulated Maalouf, describing him as a "thinker who believes that the condition for survival is, that we become adults and that humanity matures".