Assia Djebar

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Assia Djebar
Assia Djebar.jpg
Assia Djebar in 1992
Born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen
(1936-06-30)30 June 1936
Cherchell, Algeria
Died 6 February 2015(2015-02-06) (aged 78)
Paris, France
Occupation novelist, essayist, professor
Nationality Algeria
Alma mater École normale supérieure
Subject Feminism
Notable works La soif, Les impatients, Les enfants du Nouveau monde, Les alouettes naïves
Notable awards Neustadt International Prize for Literature, Yourcenar Prize


Assia Djebar (Arabic: آسيا جبار‎‎) was the pen name of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen (30 June 1936 – 6 February 2015), an Algerian novelist, translator and filmmaker. Most of her works deal with obstacles faced by women, and she is noted for her feminist stance. She is "frequently associated with women's writing movements, her novels are clearly focused on the creation of a genealogy of Algerian women, and her political stance is virulently anti-patriarchal as much as it is anti-colonial."[1] Djebar is considered to be one of North Africa's pre-eminent and most influential writers. She was elected to the Académie française on 16 June 2005, the first writer from the Maghreb to achieve such recognition. For the entire body of her work she was awarded the 1996 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. She was often named as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.[2]

Early life[edit]

Djebar was born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen on 30 June 1936, to Tahar Imalhayène and Bahia Sahraoui into a Berber-speaking family. She was raised in Cherchell, a small seaport village near Algiers in the Province of Aïn Defla. Djebar's father was an educator, teaching the French language at Mouzaïaville dans la Mitidja, a primary school she attended. Later, Djebar attend a Quranic private boarding school in Blida, where she was one of only two girls. She studied at Collège de Blida, a high school in Algiers, where she was the only Muslim in her class.[3]


In 1957, she published her first novel, La Soif ("The Thirst"). Fearing her father's disapproval, she had it published under the pen name Assia Djebar. Another book, Les Impatients, followed the next year. Also in 1958, she and Ahmed Ould-Rouïs began a marriage that would eventually end in divorce.

In 1962, Djebar published Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde, and followed that in 1967 with Les Alouettes Naïves. She remarried in 1980, to the Algerian poet Malek Alloula. The couple lived in Paris, France.

In 1985, Djebar published L'Amour, la fantasia (translated as Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade, Heinemann, 1993), in which she "repeatedly states her ambivalence about language, about her identification as a Western-educated, Algerian, feminist, Muslim intellectual, about her role as spokesperson for Algerian women as well as for women in general."[4]

In 2005, Djebar was accepted into the Académie française, a prestigious institution tasked with guarding the heritage of the French language. She was the first writer from North Africa to be elected to the organization.[5]

She was a Silver Chair professor of Francophone literature at New York University.

Djebar died in February 2015, aged 78.[6]


In 1996, Djebar won the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature for her contribution to world literature. The following year, she took home the Yourcenar Prize. In 2000, she won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.


  • La Soif, 1957 (English: The Mischief)
  • Les impatients, 1958
  • Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde, 1962 (English: Children of the New World)
  • Les Alouettes naïves, 1967
  • Poème pour une algérie heureuse, 1969
  • Rouge l'aube
  • L'Amour, la fantasia, 1985 (English: Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade)
  • Ombre sultane 1987 (English: A Sister to Scheherazade)
  • Loin de Médine, (English: Far from Medina)
  • Vaste est la prison, 1995 (English: So Vast the Prison)
  • Le blanc de l'Algérie, 1996 (English: Algerian White)
  • Oran, langue morte, 1997 (English: The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry: Algerian Stories)
  • Les Nuits de Strasbourg, 1997
  • Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement (English: Women of Algiers in Their Apartment)
  • La femme sans sépulture, 2002
  • La disparition de la langue française, 2003
  • Nulle part dans la maison de mon père, 2008


  • La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua, 1977
  • La Zerda ou les chants de l'oubli, 1979


  1. ^ Hiddleston, Jane. "Assia Djebar: In Dialogue with Feminisms (review)". French Studies: A Quarterly Review. 61 (2): 248–9. doi:10.1093/fs/knm041. 
  2. ^ Alison Flood, "Assia Djebar, Algerian novelist, dies aged 78", The Guardian, 9 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Assia Djebar", Voices from the Gaps, University of Minnesota. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  4. ^ Ghaussy, Soheila (1994). "A Stepmother Tongue: "Feminine Writing" in Assia Djebar's Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade". World Literature Today. 68 (3). 
  5. ^ MAÏA de la BAUME, "Assia Djebar, Novelist Who Wrote About Oppression of Arab Women, Dies at 78", The New York Times, 13 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Assia Djebar décédée : Perte d'une intellectuelle majeure". El Watan. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.  (French)

Further reading[edit]

  • Hiddleston, Jane. Assia Djebar: Out of Algeria. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006.
  • Ivantcheva-Merjanska, Irene. Ecrire dans la langue de l'autre. Assia Djebar et Julia Kristeva. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2015.
  • Merini, Rafika. Two Major Francophone Women Writers, Assia Djébar and Leila Sebbar: A Thematic Study of Their Works. New York: P. Lang, 1999.
  • Mortimer, Mildred P. Assia Djebar. Philadelphia: CELFAN Editions, 1988.
  • Murray, Jenny. Remembering the (post)colonial Self: Memory and Identity in the Novels of Assia Djebar. Bern: Peter Lang, 2008.
  • O'Riley, Michael F. Postcolonial Haunting and Victimization: Assia Djebar's New Novels. New York: Peter Lang, 2007.
  • Rahman, Najat. Literary Disinheritance: The Writing of Home in the Work of Mahmoud Darwish and Assia Djebar. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008.
  • Ringrose, Priscilla. Assia Djebar: In Dialogue with Feminisms. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006.
  • Thiel, Veronika. Assia Djebar. La polyphonie comme principe générateur de ses textes Vienna: Praesens, 2005.
  • Thiel, Veronika. Une voix, ce n’est pas assez... La narration multiple dans trois romans francophones des années 1980. Le Temps de Tamango de Boubacar B. Diop, L’Amour, la fantasia d’Assia Djebar et Solibo Magnifique de Patrick Chamoiseau. PHD thesis, Vienna University, 2011

External links[edit]