The Color of Words

Original title: La Couleur des Mots

Publication Date:

January 2022



Original language and publisher

French | L’Iconoclaste

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Art, Memoir

The Color of Words

Original title: La Couleur des Mots


Writer and painter
As a child, Tahar Ben Jelloun drew on large pieces of white wrapping paper in his father’s spice shop in Fez, Morocco. This passion for drawing never left him. As a student, he wrote his first poems in secrecy when detained for nineteen months in a disciplinary camp. Today, after having published more than sixty novels, essays, and poetry collections, and after having exhibited his paintings in galleries and museums in France and abroad, Tahar Ben Jelloun, like Henri Michaux, is one of the few artists who paints and writes.

Multiple influences
Whether in Tangiers or Paris, he enters cinemas, museums, and bookshops with a real hunger for knowledge. His influences are far-ranging and eclectic. Alongside Giacometti, he captures the tragedy of the human condition; alongside Matisse, the brilliance of color, and alongside jazz musician John Coltrane, the strength of improvisation and rhythm.

A creation between darkness and light
Tahar Ben Jelloun is a committed writer; his literary works explore the themes of exile, immigration, and solitude in a reality that is sometimes bitter and painful. His paintings are inspired by his happy childhood in Morocco: the blue ocean, his mother’s multicolored scarves, a celebration of life. Writing and painting are complementary; they synchronize with each other, forming a game of shadows and light akin to the many facets of human beings.

Marketing Information

  • Tahar Ben Jelloun dives into his sources of creation for the first time.
  • A beautiful graphical item full of sketches and visual works.