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.
Jean Giono was born in France on March 30, 1985. He was an author about whom Germaine Bree and M. Guiton have written, "When Giono's first novel, Colline (Hill of Destiny) appeared in 1929, it struck a fresh, new note. . . . After Proust and Gide, Duhamel and Romains, Cocteau and Giraudoux, what could be more restful than a world of wind and sun and simple men who apparently had never heard of psychological analysis, never confronted any social problems, never read any books. . ." (An Age of Fiction). Raised by his shoemaker father in a small town in the south of France, Giono's fiction has its roots in the peasant life of Provence. Horrified by his experiences in World War I, Giono returned to the world of his youth, which became the world of his imagination. After the shock of World War II, his novels seemed to gain in stature. One of his best is Horseman on the Roof (1951), his chronicle of the great cholera epidemic of 1838. Giono was honoured with the Prince Rainier of Monaco literary prize in 1953, awarded for his lifetime achievements, was elected to the Acadï¿½mie Goncourt in 1954, and became a member of the Conseil Littï¿½raire of Monaco in 1963. Giono died of a heart attack in 1970.Barbara Bray (nï¿½e Jacobs) was born on November 24, 1924 in Paddington, London. She died on February 25, 2010. Bray was an English translator and critic. She translated the correspondence of Gustave Flaubert, and work by leading French speaking writers of her own time including Marguerite Duras, Amin Maalouf, Julia Kristeva, Michel Quint, Jean Anouilh, Michel Tournier, Jean Genet, Alain Bosquet, Rï¿½jean Ducharme and Philippe Sollers. She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1986. She had a personal and professional relationship with the married Samuel Beckett that continued for the rest of his life, and Bray was one of the few people with whom he discussed his work. Bray suffered a stroke at the end of 2003, but despite this disability she continued to write Beckett's memoirs, Let Mortals Rejoice..., which she could not complete. Bray recorded some of her reflections about Beckett in a series of conversations with her friend, Marek Kedzierski, from 2004 to 2009. Excerpts have been published in many languages, but not English as of yet.