In memoriam Assia Djebar (1936-2015)

Assia DjebarIn February 2015, two great African writers died, one from the south of the continent - read Jos Damen's 'Dutch Salute to André Brink' - and one from the north: Assia Djebar (pseudonyme of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen) died in Paris on the evening of 6 February at the age of 78. Born in 1936 in the village of Cherchell (northern Algeria) where her father taught French, she was to become one of North Africa's most important francophone writers. She has published nearly twenty titles - novels, prose and poetry - which were translated into more than twenty languages. In her work she defended women's rights and the emancipation of muslim women.
In 1957 she published her first novel, La soif, about a westernized young woman growing up in Algeria. Les Alouettes naïves (1967) is about a young woman’s rejection of the patriarchy. Assia Djebar was also a filmmaker: in 1977 she directed the prize-winning film 'La Nouba des femmes du mont Chenoua' about the ethnic group of her mother. In the collection of stories Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (1980), the title of which refers to a painting by Delacroix, she experiments with new stylistic means to render the daily life and conversation of women who use a language which has 'so long ago taken on the veil', with an editing technique copied from filming. Her last book is the autobiographic Nulle part dans la maison de mon père (2008).
Assia Djebar has been teaching at different universities: she was professor in modern and contemporary history of the Maghreb at the Faculty of Letters in Rabat (Morocco), professor at the faculty of Algiers where she taught history, literature and cinema. She also taught francophone literature at New York University. She won a number of awards for her work, including the International Prize of Palmi and the International Literary Neustadt Prize. In 2000 she was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She was the fifth woman and the first Maghreb intellectual to be elected to the Académie française on 16 June 2005.

For all titles on and by Assia Djebar available in the ASC library, see here.

Elvire Eijkman, ASC Library