French-Lebanese writer, 74,, Amin Maalouf becomes the 33rd "perpetual secretary" of the "Académie Française" since 1635 when the organization was founded by Louis XIII. He takes over from Helene Carrere d'Encausse who held the position from 1999 until last month.
She did not designate a clear successor but Maalouf, who won France's most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, in 1993 for "The Rock of Tanios was considered the obvious choice because he has been highly active in the institution since being elected in 2011.
One other candidate, Jean-Christophe Rufin, threw his hat in the ring at the last minute, fearing that there wasn't enough democratic process, joked to a magazine this weekend that it was "like North Korea". Novelist and essayist Maalouf started his career as a journalist, working as a foreign correspondent. One of Maalouf's priorities will be to complete its ninth dictionary, which the academy has been working on since 1986, and is reportedly close to completion.