Atiq Rahimi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1962. His mother was a teacher, and his father was a provincial governor under the monarchy of Zahir Shah. After the coup of 1973, however, the king was overthrown and Afghanistan was declared a republic. Rahimi’s family went into exile, and after studying at the Franco-Afghan lycée, he joined his father in Bombay. In 1979, he returned to Afghanistan to read literature at the University of Kabul, and worked as a cinema critic.
In 1984, he relocated to Pakistan for a brief period, before seeking political asylum in France. He completed his PhD in audio-visual communications at the Sorbonne, and began writing Earth and Ashes in 1996. After 18 years in exile, Atiq Rahimi returned in February 2002 to Afghanistan and helped establish an Afghan writers’ centre in Kabul, with the assistance of the French government.
Rahimi is the recipient of a number of prestigious literary and film awards. In 2004, he won the Prix du Regard vers l’Avenir at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Dhow award for Best Feature Film at the Zanzibar International Film Festival for his film version of Earth and Ashes. In 2008, he was awarded the Prix Goncourt for The Patience Stone – France’s highest literary honour.