Women of Algiers in Their Apartment

Front Cover
University Press of Virginia, 1999 - Algeria - 211 pages
Translated for the first time into English, this collection of short fiction by one of the leading writers of North Africa details the plight of Algerian women and raises far-reaching issues that speak to us all. Women of Algiers quickly sold out its first printing of 15,000 in France and was hugely popular in Italy, but the book was denounced in Algeria for its criticism of the postcolonial socialist regime, which denied and subjugated women even as it celebrated the liberation of men. It was the first work to do so openly. These stylistically innovative, lyrical stories address the cloistering of women, the implications of reticence, and the significance of language and its connection to oppression (Djebar calls official Arabic "an authoritarian language that is simultaneously the language of men"). Mixing newly written pieces with older ones, Djebar attempts "to bring the past into a dialogue with the present". The stories raise issues surrounding this passage from colonial to postcolonial culture - national literature, cultural authenticity, and the impact of war on both men and women. The book's title comes from a Delacroix painting that depicts a unique glimpse of the harem, an emblem of the dual violation of Algerian women, both colonial and gendered.

About the author (1999)

Assia Djebar was born Fatima-Zohra Imalayan in Cherchell, Algeria on June 30, 1936. She read history at the Sorbonne in Paris, and, after teaching at Tunis and Rabat universities, emigrated to France with her husband and children. Her first novel, La Soif (The Mischief), was published in 1957. She wrote more than 15 novels during her lifetime including Algerian White, So Vast the Prison, The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry, and The Children of the New World. She was also a playwright and filmmaker. In 2005, she became the fifth woman to be elected to the Académie Française. She received numerous awards for her work including the International Prize of Palmi, the Peace Prize of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the International Critics' Prize at the Venice Biennale for the film La Nouba des Femmes du Mont Chenoua, and the International Literary Neustadt Prize. She died on February 7, 2015 at the age of 78.

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