On Saturday 29 February, French President Emmanuel Macron honored the Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf with the National Order of Merit, in a ceremony held at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France.
The ceremony was organized to show appreciation to Maalouf’s contributions and achievements in the world of literature.
Before presenting him with the Order of Merit, Macron addressed the Lebanese litterateur with the following words:
“Mr. Amin Maalouf, in the name of the French republic, we elevate you to the dignity of a Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit.”
Then, amid a loud round of applause, the president received the author with a warm hug as the former bowed in gratification.
The French government granted Lebanese-born Amin Maalouf the title of Grand Officer, which is the second-highest status of merit after the Grand Cross in France. This title rewards distinguished merit and those who represent the civic spirit of France.
Officially, it honors “acts of devotion, bravery, generosity, real merit, or a measurable commitment to serving others or France, with qualifications not yet sufficient to warrant the Legion of Honour.”
Amin Maalouf is a man of values and manners. He was born on February 25the, 1949, in Badaro, Beirut. He is a French-Lebanese writer, son of the famous Lebanese journalist Rushdi Maalouf.
Amin Maalouf graduated from the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut with a degree in Sociology.
He followed his father’s footsteps and worked as a journalist in the Annahar newspaper, where he published articles regarding international policies.
Amin then left Lebanon for France with his wife and 3 children in 1976, one year after the Lebanese civil war started. There, he continued on with his career as a journalist at a local newspaper, then became editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique.
That’s when he started writing novels in 1981, and he first got published in 1983. From then ongoing, Amin has devoted himself to literature.
Though he writes in French, Maalouf is a big fan of Arabic poetry. Most of his novels are marked by his experiences during the civil war and his immigration.
He wrote several books like Leo l’ Africain, Samarcand, Les Jardins de Lumiere, Les Desorientes, and The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. He also wrote some Librettos (Opera texts). His works have been translated into over 40 languages.
Amin Maalouf was awarded many prizes during his lifetime, like the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in 2010, and Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel The Rock of Tanios.
He also was awarded honorary doctorates by the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), AUB (Lebanon), Rovira I Virgili University (Spain), University of Evora (Portugal), and University of Ottawa (Canada).
In 2016, Maalouf won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Cultural Personality of the Year.
Earlier, in 2011, he was elected to seat #29 of the Academie Francaise (French Academy), standing as the first Lebanese to receive this honor.
The French Academy is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French Language.
And now, at 71 years of age, Amin Maalouf holds the title of Grand Officer and was granted the National Order of Merit. He is also making his country of origin proud and raising Lebanon’s name and reputation high in the world.