Skip to Main Content

France & French Collections at the Library of Congress

The Maghreb & the Middle East

French is not an official language in any country in the Maghreb or the Middle East. In most of these countries, Arabic is the official language (as well as Berber in some of the North African states). Nonetheless, French is still widely spoken in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Lebanon because of France’s colonial legacy. It is considered an educational, diplomatic, and commercial language. Alongside French, English is a popular second language alternative in Lebanon. A lot of the literature from North Africa and the Middle East is written in Arabic, although Francophone literature is still rich and plentiful. Authors like Hélène Cixous and Albert Camus are well-known among the general public. They were born in Algeria during colonial rule, but they are usually considered French because of their close connection to French colonists. There are also numerous talented writers who are native to the Maghreb and Lebanon. For example, Amin Maalouf is a well-known author from Beirut, Lebanon. He is distinguished for his historical fiction novels like Le Rocher de Tanios, a winner of the Prix Goncourt. Tahar Ben Jelloun, from Morocco, is another notable novelist and nominee for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some significant themes of the works below are female empowerment, colonization, Jewish identity, and romance.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional digitized versions are included when available.