How to pronounce Amara Lakhous: Lahk-house
Amara Lakhous was born in 1970 in Algiers, the sixth of nine children. His parents were Berbers, and they sent him to a Koran school for four years where he learned classical Arabic. He learned French at junior school, which meant that he had the role of mediating between his Algerian and his French relatives. After finishing school decided to study at the Faculty for Philosophy in Algiers, where he also delved into the roots of his Algerian identity, religion, the civil war and systems of male superiority. In 1995, with a manuscript in his luggage, he moved to Rome.
Lakhous earned a second degree at the University La Sapienza in Cultural Anthropology. His first manuscript, which he had written in Arabic when he was 23, was published in 1999 in a bilingual edition: Le cimici e il pirata (The Bug and the Pirate). His second book was published in Italy in 2006: Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio). It looks at the theme of identity in a multicultural environment: "I lived for six years on the Piazza Vittorio, it's a kind of laboratory for the future, the prototype of intellectual cohabitation."
Lakhous doesn't only use the unadulterated perspective of the immigrant to focus on the central issues which natives overlook. He also experiments with language by enriching his Italian prose with expressions, imagery and terms from his original language: "I Arabise the Italian and Italianise the Arabic."
Amara Lakhous has been awarded, among others, the Premio Flaiano per la narrativa in 2006 and Algeria's most prestigious literary award, the Prix des libraires Algeriens in 2008. The author lives in Rome.
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