Assia Djebar

(1936 - 2015)

Algerian novelist, filmmaker, and historian Assia Djebar was born Fatima-Zohra Imalhayène in 1936 near Algiers. As teaching in Arabic was forbidden by colonial authorities, she was educated in French, then studied in Paris, where in 1957 she published her debut novel, The Mischief. She took her pseudonym to conceal authorship of her first book. While in a taxi in Paris, she chose the name djebbar—from the ritual Arabic phrase that praises Allah the intransigent—but misspelled it in correspondence with her publisher as djébar, vernacular for healer. Djebar participated in Algeria’s struggle for independence, from 1954 to 1962. Fantasia, which she called “a preparation for an autobiography,” charts the experience of Algerian women under 132 years of French rule. Djebar died in Paris in 2015. 

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