22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Assia Djebar

Assia Djebar, the most important female poet of the Maghreb, was born in 1936 in Cherchell and was the first Algerian woman to study history at the »École Normale Supérieure« in Paris. Her first novel »La Soif« (tr: Thirst), a psychological study of the conflicts of the women of her generation, was published in 1957. During the Algerian war of Independence she worked for the newspaper of the anti-colonial FLN and at the University of Rabat. Afterwards she taught north African history in Algiers and worked for various Algerian newspapers and radio stations

This period often appears in her novels, for example in 2002 in »La femme sans sépulture« (tr: The Woman Without A Grave). In three further novels, including »Les impatients« (1958, tr: The Impatient Ones), she combined the struggles of women for emancipation with the Algerian war of Independence. In the subsequent, prize-winning films »La Nouba des femmes du mont Chenoua« (1978) and »La Zerda ou les chants de l’oubli« (1982) it is also the female voices which express Algeria’s collective memory through polyphonic narratives.

In 1980 – after the author had moved to Paris – her novel »Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement« (tr: Algerian Women in Their Apartment) was published to great acclaim; the book is characterised by sonorous language and cinematic narrative techniques. Further novels have followed at regular intervals: »L’amour, la fantasia« (1985, Engl: Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade, 1993) was one of her most successful books and, through montage, combines autobiographical texts with historical accounts by the French conquerors of Algiers from 1830. The book was the first in a tetralogy which forms a narrative of Algerian society, with its colonial history, as seen through the eyes of women. In 1996 and 1997 she published »Le Blanc de L’Algérie« (Engl: Algerian White, 2002) and »Nuits de Strasbourg« (tr: Strasbourg Nights), both of which are concerned with the current effects of fundamentalism in Algeria.

Djebar is a francophone writer who enriches the »step-motherly tongue« French with Arabic and Berber elements, a theme in her 2003 novel »La disparition de la langue française« (tr: The Disappearance of the French Language). Most recently she has published »Nulle part dans la maison de mon père« (2007 tr: No Part In My Father’s House), her most autobiographical novel to date.

Djebar has been awarded numerous prizes, including the German Book Trade’s Peace Prize (2000). She has received honorary doctorates both from the Concordia University in Montréal and the University of Osnabrück and in 2005 was the first Maghrebi author to be initiated into the Académie Française. Her novels have appeared in various languages. She taught from 1997 to 2001 at Louisiana State University and has taught since then at New York University.

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