Atiq Rahimi is a French-Afghan writer and filmmaker. Born in Kabul in 1962, Rahimi fled Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, taking refuge in Pakistan for a year before resettling in France in 1985.
After completing his studies in film at the Sorbonne, he went on to work for a Paris-based production company for several years, producing seven documentaries for French television while there. By the late 1990s Rahimi decided he needed some time off and began pursuing writing projects on his own. His time off eventually led to the publication of his first novel, Earth and Ashes, in 2000, “a Beckettian tale of thwartedness about an old man and his grandchild set during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which he also crafted into a compelling film in 2004.”
Then in 2002, after 17 years of self-imposed exile, Rahimi returned home to Afghanistan for the first time after the fall of the Taliban. Using a 150-year-old box camera, he took pictures of Kabul, after more than a decade away, six of which were purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for their permanent collection. Ever since Rahimi has split his time between Paris and Kabul, having become involved with Afghanistan’s largest media group, Moby Group, as a senior creative advisor.
In 2008, after having published three novels, all in Persian, specifically Dari, Rahimi published his fourth novel, but his first in French, Syngué Sabour, translated as The Patience Stone in English. The novel won Rahimi the “Prix Goncourt, the annual literary prize awarded by France’s Académie Goncourt.” After co-authoring a screenplay with Jean-Claude Carrière, Rahimi directed the adaptation his novel in 2012, under the same title. However, while the book was written in French, he chose to adapt the film’s dialogue to Dari. The film, about an Afghan woman caring for her older husband who has been paralyzed by a bullet, starred Iranian actress Golshifteh Farhani and was even selected as the Afghan entry for the 2013 Academy Awards in the foreign film category, although it did not make the shortlist.
In his novels, Rahimi introduces the reader to “characters who have lost their power of speech or are somehow stymied in the way they express themselves or understand others. It is a theme that Rahimi believes will continue to absorb him.” And in between writing his novels, Rahimi continues to work on film and even photography projects, enjoying the variability that these different artistic mediums offer him.