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Share via Email Photo: Amin Malouf Soon after the Lebanese civil war broke out inAmin Maalouf, then a journalist in Beirut, took refuge in his ancestral mountain village. He recalls hearing los desorientados amin maalouf from a war in which he refused to take sides, and wondering whether to join an endless family exodus.
Now 53, Maalouf has published seven novels in addition to journalism, essays and a work of history, The Crusades Through Arab Eyeswidely seen as a classic in the Los desorientados amin maalouf world.
A son of the road
His early journalism was in Arabic, but all his books were written in French he also speaks fluent English. They have been translated into more than 20 languages. His fifth novel, The Rock los desorientados amin maalouf Taniosset in early 19th-century Lebanon just as the seeds of sectarian bloodshed were being sown, won France's premier literary award, the Prix Goncourt.
For Maalouf the prize was a source of "immense joy" and also anxiety that "you'll never have the same serenity, or write with the same innocence los desorientados amin maalouf. Yet his overriding thought was not that he had won the prize Proust had won inbut to try to build an oeuvre "that might be read in a few years' time".
The novels are marked by his experience of civil war and migration, the feeling of being "poised between two countries, los desorientados amin maalouf or three languages and several cultural traditions".
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Their characters are itinerants, voyagers between los desorientados amin maalouf, languages and religions.
According to the novelist and historian Robert Irwin, they "range across the Mediterranean and the old world of the Levant that's vanished since the first world war when Greek and Italian mingled with Arabic and Turkish, and Druze rubbed shoulders with Christians, Jews and Sunni Muslims".
Profile: Amin Maalouf | Books | The Guardian
Maalouf's fiction illuminates history common to the Middle East and the west. Yet as he wrote in his non-fiction book Murderous Identitiesas a Lebanese Los desorientados amin maalouf "the fact of simultaneously being Christian and having as my mother tongue Arabic, the holy language of Islam, is one of the basic paradoxes that have shaped my identity".
Translated los desorientados amin maalouf English by Barbara Bray in as On Identitythe book was published shortly after September 11 in the US, where reviewers were struck by its insights into the historical rift between western and Arab worlds and its rejection of exclusive religious affiliations as "tribal".
For the Chilean-American writer Ariel Dorfman, "at this time of fundamentalist identity seekers, Amin's is a voice of wisdom and sanity that sings the complexity and wonder of belonging to many places".
Dorfman is surprised Los desorientados amin maalouf is not better known in the English-speaking world. Even before the Goncourt, his novels were bestsellers in France, where he is an intellectual presence on TV, in the newspaper Le Monde and L'Express magazine.
That los desorientados amin maalouf obscurity may be changing: Bray's English translation of his latest novel, Balthasar's Odysseyis being reprinted after selling more than 5, hardback copies within weeks.
On the eve ofthe apocalyptic "Year of the Beast", Balthasar is in pursuit of The One Hundredth Name, a book believed to offer its holder salvation.
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For Maalouf, it was a way of "reflecting on irrationality, los desorientados amin maalouf the fears of our own mil lennium". Like the author, Balthasar feels himself a "stranger everywhere".
Hilary Los desorientados amin maalouf, however, thought Maalouf less concerned with the strangeness of the past than with history "as a well from which you draw morals". Irwin, who admires the novel's mood of foreboding, with its omens and false messiahs, agrees that its subject is not the 17th century but modern terrorists and demagogues.