Amin Maalouf elected to Académie française

From the literary weblog at the complete review today here: Amin Maalouf has been elected to the Académie française, see also his official page at the Académie.

His novel Leo the African (Léon l’Africain, 1986) has been one of my favourite books. The opening paragraph reads:

“I, Hassan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I, Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road. My country is the caravan. My life the most unexpected of voyages.”

The book provides a fictional account of the life of al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi (c. 1494 – c. 1554?) also known as  Leo Africanus, a XVI century diplomat, traveller and geographer. It is organised in four sections, each one is named after the city that played the major role in his life at the time (Granada, Fez, Cairo, and Rome), and describes a key period of Leo Africanus’ life. A fascinating read.

The Book of Granada excerpted from Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf. Translated by Peter Sluglett here (in pdf).

with Amin Maalouf