Yasmine Khlat

I feel like my life tipped in an entirely different direction from exile on, and it would have been different had I continued to develop under stable conditions.

Her novels are a look back at history: her own and that of the world. In 2020, Yasmine Khlat published the novel Cet amour, in which she talks about the wounds left by exile, traumatic memories and the passage of time. In March 2020, she published Cet amour, published by Elyzad.

Published on 23/04/2020

2 min

Yasmine Khlat was born in 1959 in Ismailia, Egypt, near the Suez Canal. In Beirut, she began her film career in 1979, starring as Nalhain the film of the same name, by Algerian film-maker Farouk Beloufa. She also appeared in feature films by Abdellatif Ben Ammar (Tunisia) and Mohamed Malas (Syria), two directors who would be selected for the Cannes Film Festival. 

Yasmine Khlat left Lebanon for France during the civil war and made a documentary, Leylouna – Notre nuit (1988), before entering literature more than a decade later with her first novel, Le désespoir est un péché (2001). 

A naturalised French citizen, Yasmine Khlat lives and works in Paris. 

« In Lebanon, where I grew up, I was asked,  « Where are you from? ». But I would get the same question in Egypt and in France as well. I come from a crucible of gentleness, born in a cosmopolitan Egypt that did not withstand the test of exiles, wars and the onslaught of time, but by writing, I wanted to regain its accent and cheerfulness », explains Yasmine Khlat.

Ringing with the themes of loss, war and exile, her work nonetheless holds up the  « pride of hope ». 

Her latest novel, Cet amour, tells of the despair of a Lebanese woman living in Paris who, in the middle of the night, calls a psychiatrist while thinking about suicide. She tells him about her OCD and traumatic memories, left to her by a childhood in Lebanon, that resurface... The doctor decides to save her. And he is Israeli. 

Yasmine Khlat won the Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie, the year of its first edition in 2001, with her first novel Le désespoir est un péché. After initially signing with the Paris publishing house Le Seuil, she is now published by the Tunisian Elyzad, which specialises in literatures from Southern countries. 

In 2019, with Égypte 51, she became a finalist for the Arabic Literature Prize of the Paris Institute of the Arab World and a finalist for the Readers’ Pick for Best Mixed-Race Novel (Prix du Roman Métis des Lecteurs) awarded by the City of Saint-Denis.

  • 1979


    Farouk Beloufa’s film Nalha, starring Yasmine Khlat as the main character, is released.

  • 1986


    Yasmine Khlat leaves Lebanon during the war and settles in Paris.

  • 2001


    Yasmine Khlat publishes her first novel, Le désespoir est un péché, which won the Francophonie Five Continents Award the same year.

  • 2020


    Cet amour comes out, a novel exploring the relationship between a Lebanese woman and an Israeli man, both in exile in Paris.

The Institut français and the artist

In the context of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Institut Français wishes to continue offeringyou portraits, meetings with creators fromall walks of life, works and portfolios. We hope these few pages will bring some breathing space back into an everyday shaped by lockdown.


In 2017, Yasmine Khlat is a laureate of the Institut français Stendhal programme, allowing her to benefit from a writing scholarship to go to Lebanon.


The Stendhal programme allows french authors or authors living in France to travel to a foreign country and work on a writing project related to that country.

Learn more about the Stendhal programme

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