Leïla Marouane was born in Algeria in 1960. She studied Medicine and Literature in Algiers and then worked as a journalist. Due to the tense situation in Algeria, she has lived and worked as a freelance writer in Paris since 1990. To date she has published four novels and one collection of short stories. All her works are about the oppression of women in her native country and the slow decay of Algeria’s once blossoming cities, where Western modernity and Islamic fundamentalism collide.
Set against the background of political events in Algeria in the late 80’s, ‘La fille de la casbah’ (1996; Engl: The Girl from the Casbah) tells the story of a young teacher who successfully defends herself against her parents’ plans but then fails at realising her own goals in life. Neither Islam nor the Western way of life offer her the stability she needs, until finally her life ends in a bloody nightmare.
Marouane identifies with neither Islam, Judaism, nor Christianity. In her opinion they all place the woman in a subordinate role. In her second novel ‘Le Ravisseur’ (1999; Engl: The Kidnapper), which describes the fate of an Algerian woman, she sharply criticises the right of the man in Islam to disown his wife. With linguistic sensitivity she discusses the consequences of a traditional and increasingly anachronistic legal maxim.
In Algeria, Marouane was herself singled out for attacks against her person since, as a columnist and social critic, she sympathised with the Algerian women’s rights movement. She wrote her third novel ‘Le châtiment des hyprocrites’ (2001; Engl: The Punishment of the Hypocrites) to keep an act of violence which was largely hushed up, the murder of a friend, from being forgotten. It tells the story of Fatima Kosra, who was abducted, abused and impregnated by Islamists. She cannot get over the traumatic experience, but it temporarily recedes into the background when she meets the great love of her youth. The man, who lives in Paris, takes her to France with him, where her past eventually catches up with her and she becomes a murderer. The novel ‘La jeune fille et la mère’ (2005; t: The girl and the mother) deals with the role of Algeria’s women by the merciless description of the fight between a girls and her disillusioned mother. Maroune’s novel cannot find a happy ending as long as they deal with the situation in Algeria.
In 2004, the writer was awarded the LiBeraturpreis at the Frankfurt Book Fair. She received the distiguished Prix Jean-Claude Izzo for ‘La jeune fille et la mère’ in 2006.
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