Controversial winner of the prestigious French Prix Goncourt (1987), Tahar Ben Jelloun is a Moroccan writer who has not found much favor at home, despite his growing popularity abroad. According to some North African critics, Ben Jelloun intentionally sets out to please foreign readers. They contend that his writing reinforces European stereotypes by pandering to Western tastes for quaint folklore and traditions, and exotic scenery. Moroccan critics have accused Ben Jelloun of creating artificial, fabricated stories that fail to convey a true picture of Morocco. They have also been offended by his criticism of Morocco, and the fact that he reveals sides of Moroccan life that are usually kept hidden. Ben Jelloun's story of a girl dressed as a boy, L'Enfant du Sable (The Sand Child) (1985), was scandalous in their eyes. Since Ben Jelloun won the Prix Goncourt, a number of critics changed their minds and have begun to praise his work.
Linda Coverdale is the awarding-winning translator of many French works and has been honored with the title of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contribution to French literature.