BEIRUT — The Franco-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf was elected as Permanent Secretary of the French Academy on Thursday, as announced by the institution on its website.
He succeeds Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, who passed away on Aug. 5 of this year.
"Académie française" (French Academy) is the official body in France responsible for regulating and standardizing 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, according to its website, is to protect the purity and integrity of the French language. It defines and maintains the rules of grammar, orthography and vocabulary.
Amin 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.
Maalouf was elected to the French Academy on June 23, 2011, occupying the seat previously held by Claude Lévi-Strauss.
In Lebanon, several political figures praised the election of Amin Maalouf.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati congratulated Maalouf in comments relayed by the state-run National News Agency.
"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," said Mikati. "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."
"It is not surprising that Amin Maalouf ascends to the throne of the French language," wrote Kataeb party leader Samy Gemayel on the social network X. Gemayel lauded the "inestimable success" of the Franco-Lebanese writer.
Michel Moawad, a former presidential candidate, thanked the author for "moving from complete obscurity in Lebanon to shine in France" and for sending a "civilized message to the West and the world, stating that Lebanon does not die."