Barnabé Laye was born in 1941 in Porto-Novo (Benin). Doctor at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. He succeeds in juggling his literary and medical vocations. « I am a doctor by day and writer by night. I think both sides of myself cohabitate well. But I must confess that it’s the doctor who nourishes the writer, who supports him like one supports a dancer… The writer sometimes capricious, he is unhappy, he dreams of the day when he’ll finally be free to devote himself entirely to his passion ».

Barnabé Laye talks about the genesis of his literary career: « After reading the novel, Cry, the Beloved Country by South African Alan Paton, I closed the book, overwhelmed, as if I had just had an epiphany… I told to myself- that’s what needs to be done, writing in a simple and uncluttered language, letting the music of the words carry the ardor of the feelings, translating the fragility of the existences and the distress at the heart of the human being. I was fifteen. Soon after, I told my father I wanted to be a writer. Embarrassed, he replied : Son, this is not a job fit for a Black man, that’s not a job for us. I always obeyed my father that I consider to be one the most intelligent men I have ever met. So, I chose to become a doctor like my maternal uncle that my father admired and held up as an example. When I announced my choice, my father whispered in my ear, like a confidence : and your uncle, he changes car every two years and he married the most beautiful woman in the country ! before leaving with a laugh. Besides, for some reasons that I could not explain, I always thought that medicine was a very… poetic profession. »

Barnabé Laye hopes he has kept the wonder that the teenage boy he was felt, facing the beauty of the language when it expresses disarray but also deep-rooted hope and an irrepressible need for love, justice and truth.
French writer André Maurois said: « The place for a writer to innovate is in his way of looking at life ». Barnabé Laye’s look, through all his books, is a look full of compassion and fraternity.

Barnabé Laye passed away on April 3, 2024 and is buried in the Batignolles cemetery (Paris 17th).

Awards and Honors :

  • Prix Charles Carrère 2017 du Cénacle Européen des Arts et des Lettres
  • Prix Aimé Césaire 2015 de la Société des Poètes Français (Fragments d’errances)
  • Médaille de vermeil 2016 de l’Académie Internationale de Lutèce (Fragments d’errances)
  • Prix Emile Nelligan 2010 pour l’ensemble de l’œuvre poétique
  • Grand Prix littéraire des Hôpitaux de Paris 1990 (Mangalor)

Member of these Writers Associations :

Société des gens de lettres de France (Society of Men of Letters of France), SGDL
Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia (Civil Society of Multimedia Authors), SCAM
Société des Poètes Français (French Poets Society)
P.E.N. Club Français