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Fouad Laroui

Fouad Laroui - foto Eduard Lampe
Fouad Laroui - foto Eduard Lampe

(Morocco, 1958) in 2013 won the Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle for his collection of short stories The Curious Case of Dassoukine's Trousers. Since his debut in 1996 humor has been his weapon against intolerance, both in his novels and in his other work. In his fiction, such as the collection of short stories Poldermarokkanen (2010), the novels Une année chez les Français (2011) and La femme la plus riche de Yorkshire (2011), Laroui describes time and again the collision between North African culture and Western culture. Laroui grew up in Casablanca and studied econometry, mathematics, physics and architecture in Paris. He lectures French literature and Arab culture at the University of Amsterdam.

(WN 2019)

Archive available for: Fouad Laroui

  • Winternachten 2019 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Living forever: eternal desire

    Adam Zagajewski, eminent poet and essayist from Poland, opened Friday Night Unlimited by reading from his work. Subsequently Ramayana expert Arshia Sattar (India) and Dutch writer and philosopher Joke Hermsen spoke about the desire to live longer. Sattar translated and rewrote the ancient story cycle about the mythical struggle of Prince Rama to win back his beloved Sita from the hands of the demonic King Ravana. In her book Stilling Time, Hermsen argues for a slow future in which waiting, restfulness and bordom have their place; in her essay Melancholie van de onrust (Melancholy of Unrest), she elaborates on the blessings of melancholy, among others as source of creativity. With classical Persian music and poetry performed by Balout Khazraei. Fouad Laroui, writer and professor French language and Arabic cultures at the University of Amsterdam, hosted the conversation.

  • Winternachten 2014

    Wim Brands Reading Club: De Ontheemden (Les Desorientés) by Amin Maalouf

    With: Fouad Laroui, Petra Stienen, Wim Brands

    Wim Brands, maker and host of the VPRO-programme Brands met Boeken (Brands with Books) on radio and television discusses the Dutch translation of Amin Maalouf's latest novel with the audience. Two writers, Arabist Petra Stienen and Fouad Laroui, lecturer in Arabic culture and French literature at the University of Amsterdam, first give their opinion about the book. Read this beautiful novel and join the Reading Club.

    The main character in the novel De ontheemden (The Disoriented) is Adam, a historian. He lives in exile in Paris, far away from Lebanon, the country he had to flee twenty-five years earlier. But one telephone call is enough to make him return at once. An old friend is dying and wants to see Adam one more time. In Lebanon Adam rediscovers the people and the places he used to love so much. His friends have all made different choices; some of them have blood on their hands. But who is Adam to judge them? Wasn't his exile a luxury, which made him distance himself from the difficulties his friends had to struggle with? '

    In an excellent way Amin Maalouf gives an insight into the thoughts and feelings that can lead to emigration. […] A splendid, impressive novel.' Le Monde des Livres

    'Maalouf writes exciting novels of an exceptionally high level.' NRC Handelsblad

    On Sunday morning 12 January the literary programme Brands met Boeken on the tv channel Nederland 1 was be dedicated to Amin Maalouf. You can watch the English spoken interview here.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The Text of my Life: Fouad Laroui

    Which texts from world literature has Dutch-Morrocan writer Fouad Laroui cherished as long as he lives? This most beautiful or most inspiring text can be a poem, an excerpt from a novel or a song-text. He discusses the text with the audience. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Can I put my heart at your feet?

    Writers plunge into the world of sweet words, rapture and temptation. But, as Elisabeth Bennet remarked in Pride and Prejudice: 'If it's only a vague inclination, I'm convinced a poor sonnet will kill it stone dead.' An evening about the best phrases of seduction in literature, the most successful practical examples of the power of the word in the field of romantic love and words capable of eradicating an awakening love root and branch. And Hartstuk by Heiner Müller, one of the shortest plays in the history of the theatre, brought to you by the young group of theatre makers HartenJagers. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Like me. Please like me. Opening Lecture by Amin Maalouf

    See me. Hear me. Read me. Appreciate me. Be like me. Do like me. Join me: with the democratisation of the media owing to the Internet and the social media, there is a growing longing for recognition. Not only do celebrities have a stage to sparkle on, all those with a blog, Facebook or Twitter account can create their own little kingdom and think themselves a poet, a writer, a political expert or an expert on the environment. Boundaries fade; idols and politicians can be reached on Twitter, making it seem as if one really counts. And a like or a retweet is the reward. New online communities are formed, not hindered by national borders or local politics. The new world citizen creates his own virtual society of kindred spirits. What does it mean to live in a virtual world and what are the consequences for people's identities? Amin Maalouf ponders the deper layers and consequences behind a simple request: Like me. Followed by a debate on the topic. In English.

  • Winternachten 2010

    Winternachten Lecture

    With: Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Antjie Krog, Fouad Laroui, Mehmet Polat, Tarun Tejpal, Xue Xinran

    The question seemed as simple as far-reaching: if you were to rewrite the rules of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, from a South African perspective, would the result resemble the original? Or would something completely different emerge?

    The South African writer Antjie Krog took up the gauntlet and presents the result at the annual Winternachten Lecture. In her lecture it is clear from the outset that in the new text the original rules of the declaration are not quite recognizable. Indeed, no rules have been included at all. Why? Because, according to Krog, the Third World never comes up with rules. Rules are something for the First World. The Third World comes forward with suggestions. Or it burns. Because the First World always listens to fire.

    For Krog suggestions suffice. Her declaration has two titles: The Universal Declaration of Interconnectedness and Universal Suggestions for Tolerance. Her lecture ends in two fundamental questions on tolerance and intolerance. The Indian writer Tarun Tejpal and the Chinese writer Xue Xinran try to answer from the perspective of their countries of origin. Both Tejpal and Xinran not only write fiction, but as journalists they contribute to the public debate in their country.

    Writer Fouad Laroui hosts the evening. The audience will be given the opportunity to react to both Krog and Xinran and Tejpal.
    The lecture is in English. The Dutch translation is projected simultaneously. Visitors of the lecture will receive the full text in Dutch and English.

  • Winternachten 2008

    NRC Reading Club Live

    With: Bas Heijne, Elsbeth Etty, Fouad Laroui, Pieter Steinz

    A city gripped by fear, and what does that fear do to people: Albert Camus wrote his fabulous novel 'The Pest' (1947) about it. Are their paralls to be drawn with our present day and age?

    In the section De Leesclub (The Reading Club) in the leading Dutch daily paper NRC Handelsblad the paper monthly discusses with its readership a book selected by the book editors. The live editions of the Reading Club during Winternachten proved very successful, that's why we're proud to present Reading Club Live again. This year with reviewers Bas Heijne, Elsbeth Etty and the Moroccon/Dutch writer Fouad Laroui, hosted by Pieter Steinz and with audience participation. The book? Of course: The Pest by Albert Camus. Bring a pen, paper and the book! See the relevant pages in NRC Handelsblad. In Dutch

  • Winternachten 2008

    In A State of Fear

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Bram Peper, Fouad Laroui, Frank Furedi, Maxim Februari

    "The only thing we fear is fear itself", said president Roosevelt. The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world. The government does everything to protect us. And yet fear reigns. British sociologist Frank Furedi, writer of among others 'Culture of Fear', says: "Societies capable of projecting a positive image of the future do not know the need to use fear as a currency in everyday life. And politicians trying to enthsue the electorate for a positive programme, largely avoid the politics of fear."

    In this Friday afternoon debate Furedi talks to writer and philosopher Marjolijn Februari, writer Adriaan van Dis and former politician Bram Peper. Each of them presents a recommendation to state and citizens, about how to deal with risks and fear. Four students of the Institute of Social Studies, coming from non-western countries, form a shadow panel. In a dialogue with the public they assess the recommendations, adapting them where needed. Host is writer and professor in migrant literature Fouad Laroui. In English

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    In search of pure Islam

    Hosted by writer/journalist Joris Luyendijk, journalist Rachida Azough and writer/essayist Ian Buruma talked to the Moroccan/Dutch writer Fouad Laroui on his book On Islamism. A Personal Rebuttal. He dissects and refutes the principles of islamism as a collective, political and totalitarian religion, blocking free, individual belief. What remains is pure religion. Journalist Rachida Azough replaced Naïma Azough. Dutch spoken.

  • World Speakers 21 november '06

    Living Apart Together - Education and multiculturalism in The Netherlands

    With: Fouad Laroui, Frank Martinus Arion, James Cummins, Louk de la Rive Box

    The second in a series of three panel discussions on the future of a multicultural Dutch society. The Dutch educational situation will be the topic of this evening's discussion. The Dutch education system is starting to experience problems brought about by changing population dynamics. Is the current situation of education in the Netherlands sufficiently geared to our multicultural future? Writer and educational reformer Frank Martinus Arion (Curaçao), professor Jim Cummins (Canada), renowned for his studies in minority education, and professor in International Cooperation Louk de la Rive Box (The Netherlands) search for three commandments for successful education in a Dutch future multicultural society. The moderator of this evening is Dutch/Moroccan writer Fouad Laroui. The panel discussion is in English.

    The World Speakers series brings together prominent minds from the worlds of science and art. It is jointly organized by the Institute of Social Studies and Winternachten.

    Tickets: Korzo theater, Prinsestraat 21, Den Haag - 070 3637540 -

  • World Speakers sept. 2006

    Living Apart Together - language and multiculturalism in The Netherlands

    With: Auma Okwany, Cavy G., Etienne van Heerden, Fouad Laroui, René Appel

    On Wednesday 27 September, 20.30 hrs, Winternachten and the Insitute of Social Studies presented the first in a series of three paneldiscussions on the future of a multicultural Dutch society. The South African writer Etienne van Heerden, the Dutch author and socio-linguist René Appel and Auma Okwany from Kenia, discussed language politics and multiculturalism in The Netherlands: in search for three 'commandments' to deal with 122 languages.

    In 'Living Apart Together – language and multiculturalism in The Netherlands', we compared the situation in our country to countries with a long multicultural tradition, notably South Africa and Kenia. In The Netherlands 122 languages are spoken. How tolerant are the Dutch, and how tolerant should they be in allowing the use of other languages from Dutch? What is the extent of Dutch language politics – as far as this exists at all – to the language politics in other multicultural societies? Is there a need for everybody to speak Dutch in public life? And why not give Turkish an official status next to Frisian and Dutch? Could South Africa, with its eleven official languages, be a model for The Netherlands? What rules for everyday speech do we need for a successful multicultural society? During the discussion the participants, together with three students of ISS and the audience, formulated three 'commandments' to deal with language in future multicultural society in the Netherlands. The panel was chaired by the Dutch/Moroccan writer Fouad Laroui.

    The three commandments that were formulated:
    - Thou shalt not be afraid of the tongue of another.
    - All languages are equal, but Dutch is more equal.
    - We must embrace differences because language diversity is a cultural treasure.

    Listen to a sound recording of the whole programme on this page.

  • World Speakers - april 2006

    Islam and disrupted childhood

    With: Elif Shafak, Fouad Laroui, Margalith Kleijwegt, Pieter Hilhorst, Rema Hammami

    This was the first programme in the series 'World Speakers' in Korzo Theatre in The Hague, organised by Winternachten and the Institute of Social Studies. The debate looked at traditions and Islam in the education of children in changing and hostile social environments. Participants were Elif Shafak, a writer from Istanbul and lecturer in gender studies in the USA, Rema Hammami from Palestine, lecturer in anthropology and women's studies, Dutch journalist Margalith Kleijwegt, writer of Onzichtbare ouders - de buurt van Mohammed B. (Invisible parents – the neighbourhood of Mohammed B.) and writer Fouad Laroui, raised in Morocco, emigrated to Paris, now living in Amsterdam. Moderator was Pieter Hilhorst.

    We compared three situations: immigrants in the jungle of Dutch cities, migrants from Turkish rural areas to Istanbul and other Turkish cities, and Palestinian youth in the 'war zone'. In these situations parents lose control of their children. They rely on school, neighbourhood and government to keep their children on the right track. But in these situations things get out of hand. The traditional Islamic organisations seem to provide a refuge: they give the children structure and a traditional religious education, in Turkey as well as in Palestine and the Netherlands. Rema Hammami's opinion is that the success of the Hamas in Palestine has to do with this kind of social support they offer.

    The first part of the evening was a discussion with the four guests. The writers (Fouad Laroui, Elif Shafak, Margalith Kleijwegt) read from their literary work (in the original language, with simultaneous projection of the English translation). In the second part a panel of students from the ISS took part in de debate. The debate was in English.

  • Winternachten 2003

    New Iconoclasms - debate

    With: Ellen Ombre, Fouad Laroui, H.J.A. Hofland, Laetitia van den Assum, Louk de la Rive Box, Mai Ghoussoub, Paul Schnabel

    Cultural identity in an international perspective. A panel discussion in co-operation with the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. The existing image and identity of The Netherlands are no longer valid, or at least incomplete. In its conference 'Roses in the Desert' on 6 September 2002, the Prince Claus Fund put the question of identity of The Netherlands on the agenda. Holland, also as a part of Europe, looks back on a history of citizenship and democratic values. A history that promises an analytic and critical role in world-wide international and intercultural debates. It seems to be too modest in this respect though, merely passing over ideas from elsewhere. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 2

    Double Fatherland

    Foreigners in Holland are often amazed about the low esteem that the Dutch show for their culture. What about those writers in our country that have a second or maybe a a third home-country? What made the Maroccan writer Fouad Laroui come to the Netherlands, via France? Where lies the fatherland of Mala Kishoendajal, Hindustani Surinamese living in Holland? What made the Somali writer Yasmine Allas choose for the Netherlands? Three authors migrating in their books. They write about being a stranger, about adaptation, feeling at home, and loyalty to the country of origin.

  • Winternachten 2002

    Live Anthology: taboos of love and literature

    With: Antjie Krog, Ayu Utami, Basil Appollis, Ernest Pépin, Fouad Laroui, Frank Martinus Arion, Gerrit Komrij, Manon Uphoff, Michaël Zeeman, Pauline Melville

    'These are the same people who used to think that anything goes and everything should be allowed. Now they want to prohibit everything which they suspect might bring enjoyment to someone else' (Gerrit Komrij).
    Maybe 'taboo' is the most culturally specific notion possible. In the Netherlands, taboos in love or literature seem out of date since the 1960s. But in South Africa, a novel about homosexuality comes as a shock, and a South African makes internationally controversial movies about power, love and violence. Cultures collide when talking about taboos, so this should be a great starting point for a discussion with a collection of internationally renowned authors. This afternoon, eight writers read their favorite fragments from world literature with the theme of the taboo. In the ensuing conversation, the boundaries of culture and religion become apparent. Dutch/English spoken.

  • Winternachten 2002 – Winternacht 2

    Veiled Love

    Is there such a thing as middle ground when lovers come from such different worlds as the Jewish and Islamic spheres? Does love cross boundaries between culture and religion? Or does one end up in 'the wrong love story', as happens in Fouad Laroui's novel Judith and Jamal. He discussed these questions along with Tamarah Benima and Naima el Bezaz. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2000

    The Future of the Arab Novel

    With: Fouad Laroui, Hanaan as-Sjaikh, May Telmissany, Tayeb Salih

    Four Arabian writers discussed the future of the Arabic novel. Tayeb Salih (London, moderator), May Telmissany (Cairo), Fouad Laroui (Amsterdam) and Hanaan as-Sjaikh (London) discussed subjects like globalisation and the Arabic novel in postmodern times. The discussion was in Arabic. The non-Arabic audience could hear a simultaneious translation into Dutch via headphones.

  • Winternachten 2000 – Winternacht 2

    Arab writers coming closer

    Arabic novels are being read more and more in The Netherlands.. Winternachten brought together four Arabic writers in a conversation with Michaël Zeeman. Hanaan as-Sjaikh grew up in Lebanon and now lives in London. De Moroccan Fouad Laroui studied in Paris and now lives in Amsterdam. Shortly before the festival his very well reviewed novel ' Kijk uit voor parachutisten' was published. Tayeb Salih (Sudan, 1926), is one of the leading Sudanese writers and an authority on Arabic literature. English spoken.