French Lebanese writer and member of the French Academy Amin Maalouf
French Lebanese writer and member of the French Academy Amin Maalouf poses in his home in Port-Joinville, western France, on October 1, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Renowned French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf was elected as the Permanent Secretary of the French Academy on September 28, succeeding Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, who passed away on August 5.

Maalouf clinched the prestigious position with 24 votes, outpacing fellow writer and competitor Jean-Christophe Rufin, who secured eight votes, as reported by AFP.

Maalouf was the favoured candidate for the role due to his active participation in the foundation’s initiatives and previous experience as the Permanent Secretary of the Academy.

Amin Maalouf  French writer Jean-Christophe Rufin
French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf (R), new member of the Academie Francaise (French Academy, part of the Institut de France) poses with French writer Jean-Christophe Rufin (L) at the Institut de France in Paris following a ceremony to mark his new membership in the institution on June 14, 2012. Image Credit: AFP

A steadfast defender of the French language, Maalouf has been an integral member of the organisation for several years, having joined its ranks in 2011.

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 Civilisations,” published in 2019.

Furthermore, he has been honoured with two distinguished Arab accolades: the Al Owais Prize and the Zayed Book Award.

The French Academy currently has 40 seats, with men occupying 28, women holding seven, and five remaining vacant, awaiting forthcoming elections.

“Académie française” (French Academy) is the official body in France responsible for regulating and standardising the French language. It is also known as the “Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres” (Academy of Inscriptions and Beautiful Letters).

The French Academy’s primary mission is to protect the purity and integrity of the French language. It defines and maintains the rules of grammar, orthography and vocabulary.

Maalouf was elected to the French Academy on June 23, 2011, occupying the seat previously held by Claude Lévi-Strauss.