The Team

Charif Majdalani, President

Charif Majdalani was born in Beirut, in 1960. He attended high school at the Lycée franco-libanais in Beirut between 1964 and 1979. After pursuing his studies at the Aix-en-Provence University (France), he completed his PhD thesis on Antonin Artaud in 1993. He came back to Lebanon on that same year, and started teaching, first at Balamand University, then at Saint-Joseph University where he later became the Dean of French Literature from 1999 to 2008.

In the framework of his academic activities, Charif Majdalani has set up eight international inter-university cooperative agreements, five teaching programs (including fourteen teaching missions at Saint-Joseph University). He has also developed a new Masters program on “Book professions”, which he has been running since 2008. Charif Majdalani is also a member of the scientific committee for several international seminars. Between 2000 and 2002, he led a French-Lebanese research group on compared europhonias and, since 2010, has been leading a similar research group on the “Mediterranean interculturality”. As a professor and literary critic, he is regularly a guest speaker at various international seminars and conferences and has been published in numerous university publications, prefaces and texts.

Charif Majdalani has also organized several international conferences on the state of contemporary poetry(“Etats de la poésie contemporaine”), in collaboration with the Cooperation and Cultural Action Service (Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle) of the French Embassy in Lebanon, Read to Write, a new way of teaching literature (“Lire pour écrire, une nouvelle finalité pour l’enseignement de la literature”), in collaboration with the online magazine, as well various meetings with writers. In 2009, he organized a 2-day international literary meeting entitled “Writers strolling in the city”, in collaboration with Beirut World Book Capital, the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, Bank Audi, the embassies of France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Urugua, and Brazil in Lebanon, the Cervantes Institute, the Italian Cultural Institute, and the French Cultural Center.

Between 1995 and 1998, Charif Majdalani was in charge of the literary column of the French language Lebanese magazine L’Orient-Express edited by Samir Kassir. Since 2006, he has also been a member of the L’Orient littéraire’s editorial board. He has over a hundred articles and reviews to his name and he is also regularly called upon to present his opinion in Lebanese and French newspapers (L’Orient-le Jour, An-Nahar, Le Monde, Libération) and held, throughout 2007, a monthly chronicle in the daily paper La Montagne-Centre-France.

In 2002, Charif Majdalani published an essay on inter-culturality entitled Petit traité des mélanges. Du métissage culturel considéré comme un des Beaux Arts. In 2005, he published his first novel, Histoire de la grande maison (Seuil), followed by Caravansérail in 2007, Nos si brèves années de gloire in 2012, and Le dernier Seigneur de Marsad in 2013. Histoire de la grande maison, Caravansérail and Le dernier Seigneur de Marsad were all nominated for the primary French literary prizes. Histoire de la grande maison received the Phénix prize and Caravansérail the Tropiques prize as well as the prize François Mauriac from the French Academy (Académie Française). The two novels have been translated into Arabic, Catalan, German, Greek, and Italian. Charif Majdalani also published several short stories and a script commissioned by Radio-France, Un Rendez-vous dans la montagne, broadcasted on the air in France in 2007 and 2008. As a writer and novelist, Charif Majdalani has been invited to numerous meetings and book fairs in France, Switzerland, Canada and Italy, and to several radio and TV programs (France Culture, France Inter, France 2, France 3, LCI, MTV, Télé-Liban, Future-TV, Télé-Lumière).

Charif Majdalani is a Knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters.

Nadine Chehade, Vice-President

Born in Beirut, Nadine Chehade simultaneously follows studies in Economic Sciences and French Literature at Saint-Joseph University, before travelling to France to complete them, first at ESSEC MBA (Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales), where she specializes in Finance, then at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, where she opts of General and Comparative Literature, studying Chinese and African literature, as well as Persian poetry. After several years in investment banking and management consulting, she joins Planet Rating in May 2006; a rating agency specialized in microfinance. She has led numerous missions throughout the Middle East, as well as in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia, first as an analyst in charge of the MENA and Caucasus regions, then as a Business Development Manager. She is fluent in Arabic, French, English, and Spanish. She also teaches and gives lectures for Masters students at the universities of Paris X - Dauphine, Nancy II (France), and Regent’s College (UK). Starting May 2012, she becametheMENA Regional Representative for CGAP, a consortium housed at the World Bank and made of over 30 donors and investors, focusing on research, supporting more enabling regulatory frameworks, as well as more effective donor assistance.

Active within the Lebanese community for over 15 years, in Beirut and Paris, she is a part of various projects and NGOs geared at improving access to education and culture, as well as encouraging Lebanese expatriates to exercise their voting rights, notably in 2005. As a lover of comic books, she dedicates the vast majority of her articles to this theme as a journalist in L’Orient-Express, the French language Lebanese magazine edited by Samir Kassir. She launches her blog from Beirut a few days after the start of the July 2006 war, from which extracts are published by Les Bords Perdus in Beyrouth, été 2006, as well as in the Pensée du Midi issue entitled Beyrouth, XXIe siècle. After living for several years in France and in the US, she moved back to Beirut in 2007.

Céline El Khoury, Secretary

Born in Paris, Céline has studied French Literature at the Saint-Joseph University in Beirut. She has written a paper on “L’Entre-Deux” or “In between”, based on Julien Gracq’s master pieces Le Rivage des Syrtes and Un Balcon en forêt. Committed to the publishing industry, she started her career in France by training in various departments (editing, press, and manufacturing) at Hachette (J.C. Lattes), Gallimard (Mercure de France), and Allia (independent publisher). When she returned to Beirut, she gave French classes at the Mission Culturelle Française, and took over the literary column of Allô’s, a French language Lebanese magazine. Simultaneously, she enrolled in a Masters in Inter-cultural Mediation, and subsequently worked in Milan at ISMU (Iniziative e studi sulla multietnicita), a research centre on the various communities existing in Italy.

In pursuit of her ongoing ambition to specialize in the world of books, she started working for the exclusive retailer Virgin in the Middle East, where she developed her commercial skills as a purchaser of art and comic books. In this role she attended book fairs in Paris, London, and Frankfurt on a yearly basis, and negotiated with foreign publishers to obtain better deals, optimize sales, and improve inventory management.

Up until the end of 2010, she was a publisher at Tamyras, and was chosen in 2009 among the gamut of Lebanese publishers to participate in the IYPE (International Young Publisher Entrepreneur) competition, held in London every year. She has worked on numerous projects, including the publication of Etel Adnan’s two novels (Sitt Marie-Rose and Au cœur du cœur d'un autre pays), graphic books (Beyrouth by day, Don't take my picture, Iraqis don't cry, Lebanon & on), and short story collections (Noir Beyrouth). She is also part of the editing team of Antoine bookstores monthly newsletter. She has published her first work, Dernier arrêt avant minuit, in the short stories erotic collection, Nuits beyrouthines. In 2012, she started her own editing, copywriting, and translation company, Rollin’pen.

Carole Ammoun, Treasurer

Born in Beirut, Carole Ammoun is a professional actress, who trained in a number of theater and dance schools and workshops in Paris, Beirut, Minsk, New York and Tunis. She combines her artistic skill, ranging from acting to writing, with organizational abilities. Since 2002, she has acted in French, Arabic and English in numerous plays and movies in France and in Lebanon. As a writer, she has published three short stories, Tu finiras vieille fille in 2005, La ville au corps in 2010, and Le Printemps dans les veines in 2011. She has co-written Correspondances with Olivier Coyette, a Belgian playwright and Evelyne de la Chenelière, a Quebecker playwright, a show that was staged in 2011 by the company “Les porteuses d’aromates.”Carole has also participated in organizing several cultural events. She was the assistant producer of the first Off-Byblos Festival and of many concerts and themed evenings with the Leitmotiv and Eddé Yard companies in 2004 and 2005.She has held different positions in theatrical projects, and was notably the executive producer of Those Eyes That Mouth by the Scottish theatre company Grid Iron and of Qossat Mot Nagib Brax by Hisham Jaber in 2005, as well as the assistant director for Chlah El Tarbouch by Elie Karam in 2007.As a project manager for the company Amphipole, in 2009, she worked on creating the guide to the Lebanese film industry ( commissioned by Lebanese Office of Tourism in Paris for the Cannes Film Festival.

During the literary gathering “Les Écrivains Arpenteurs de Villes” that took place in 2009 as part of the events surrounding Beirut World Book Capital, Carole was in charge of coordinating all the agencies who supported and took part in the event (Beirut World Book Capital, embassies, cultural centres, and Saint-Joseph University). She also oversaw the conception of the program, the communication surrounding the event and the overall logistics. She was responsible for welcoming the guests and directed the actors who read extracts from books of the invited authors prior to each of the meetings.

Huda Saigh, Accountant

Born in Beirut, Huda studied Philosophy at the American University in Beirut (AUB). She later did her MBA at the American University in Washington DC, where she focused on Finance, and a Master in International Affairs at Columbia University in New York, where she focused on International development. Huda is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) since 2001. For the first ten years of her career, she worked in New York. After her MBA, Huda joined Reuters as a fixed income analyst covering the Middle East and North Africa. As such, she travelled in the region to promote financial transparency and make information available. In 2002, she joined Working Today, an NGO focused on providing health insurance for American freelancers, particularly artist and IT developers. For her last two years in New York, Huda worked in management consulting at Deloitte with a focus on strategy in the banking sector.

Huda moved to Lebanon in 2006, where she joined a UNDP policy advisory unit at the Ministry of Finance for three years. As a senior economic officer, her work was aimed at creating policies to promote growth. In 2009, Huda became the Finance Manager of Al Majmoua, a Lebanese independent NGO focused on the provision of financial and non-financial services for the unbanked in Lebanon. For three semesters in 2007-2008, Huda taught Economics and Public Finance at the Lebanese American University (LAU).