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Moroccan-French novelist Driss Chraibi dies

Driss Chraibi, the Morocco-born writer who became one of the world's most prominent authors of North African descent, has died at the age of 80.

Driss Chraibi,theMorocco-bornwriter who became one of the world's most prominent authors of North African descent,has died at the age of 80.

Chraibi was known for mixing biographical elements from his own life into his writing, which examined themes such as colonialism,culture clashes, generational conflict and the treatment of Islamic women.

He died Sunday in southwest France, where he lived for much of his life. His body will be returned to his homeland for burial, Morocco's state news agency MAP reported Monday.

"He was the first writer I read as a child who created Moroccan characters that were believable," fellow Moroccan writer Laila Lalami said in an interview.

Describing Chraibi as "a national treasure," Lalami added: "He will be sorely missed."

Born in Morocco in 1926, Chraibi moved to Paris to study chemistry. After receiving his degree, he initially pursued graduate studies but then decided to leave science behind.

He travelled through Europe and worked a host of jobs — including chemical engineer, night watchman, labourer and radio producer — before his literary career took off.

In 1954, two years before Morocco gained its independence from France, Chraibi published his explosive debut, Le passé simple (The Simple Past ), which explores generational conflict and the negative treatment of Islamic women in Moroccan society. At the time, Chraibi was accused ofbetraying his homeland.

He would go on to write more than a dozen additional French-language novels, exploring themes such as colonialism, the clash between Arab and French cultures, the difficult life ofimmigrant workers living in France andrepression in traditional, taboo-laden Moroccan society.

Aside from his more serious titles, Chraibi also wrote a series of detective novels featuring a Moroccan police inspector named Inspector Ali.

Chraibi published his autobiography Vu, lu, entendu (Seen, read, heard) in 1998.

With files from the Associated Press