Doctor Honoris causa of ENS de Lyon, October 4, 2013
Boualem Sansal was born in Théniet El Had, Tissemsilt. Trained as an engineer with a doctorate in economics, he began writing novels at the age of 50 after retiring from his job as a high-ranking official in the Algerian government. The assassination of President Mohamed Boudiaf in 1992 and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Algeria inspired him to write about his country.
Sansal continues to live with his wife and two daughters in Algeria despite the controversy his books have aroused in his homeland. At the 2007 International Festival of Literature in Berlin, he was introduced as a writer "exiled in his own country". He claims that Algeria is becoming a bastion of Islamic extremism and the country is losing its intellectual and moral underpinnings.
Sansal's novel Le village de l'Allemand ou le journal des frères Schiller, is the story of two Algerian brothers who burrow into the past and discover that their father had been a Nazi officer who fled to Algeria after the war. The book explores the fine line between Islamic fundamentalism and Nazism.
Since the publication of Poste restante: Alger. Lettre de colère et d'espoir à mes compatriotes in 2006, Sansal's books have been banned in Algeria.