Taher Ben Jelloun

Tahar Ben Jelloun is a Moroccan author, poet and painter born December 1st, 1944 in Fez. He started drawing even before writing, however he began painting only in the past ten years. After attending a bilingual French-Moroccan primary school, he studied at the French lycée in Tangier until he was 18. He then went to the university Mohammed V in Rabat where he majored in philosophy and wrote his first poems collected in “Hommes sous linceul de silence” (Men under shroud of silence) (1971). Tahar Ben Jelloun later taught philosophy in Morocco. However, in 1971, following the Arabization of philosophy teaching, he had to leave for France, as he was not trained for pedagogy in Arab. He moved to Paris to pursue his psychology studies. From 1972 onwards, he writes numerous articles for the daily newspaper Le Monde. In 1973 his first novel “Harouda” was published by Maurice Nadeau from Denoël (Lettres Nouvelles). In 1975 he earned a PhD in social psychiatry. His writing indeed reflects his experience as a psychotherapist (“La Réclusion solitaire” (Solitary Reclusion), 1976). In 1985 he published the novel “L’Enfant de Sable” (The Sand Child) which made him famous. He was awarded with the Prix Goncourt in 1987 for “La Nuit Sacrée” (Sacred Night), a sequel to “L’Enfant de Sable”. He is the author of several educational publications (such as “Le Racisme expliqué à ma fille” (Racism explained to my daughter), 1998, or “L’Islam expliqué aux enfants” (Islam explained to children), 2002) and is regularly solicited for speeches in schools and universities in Morocco, France and Europe. In 2008 he was elected member of the Académie Goncourt. Tahar Ben Jelloun is the world’s most translated author. Some of his books have been translated in 45 languages including Esperanto and Braille.