The tongue’s blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

The tongue’s blood does not run dry by Assia Djebar

Algerian Fiction

Translator – Tegan Raleigh

Assia Djebar name has flown high in the nobel odds the last couple of years so I decided to try her ,before she does win it .Assia Djebar is her pen name her real name being Fatima-Zohar Imalayen ,she is a Algerian of Berber origins , she was the first Algerian women to go the prestigious ENS  the elite Parisian college .Her first book was published in 1957 ,she was also the first Maghreb to be voted on to the  Académie française and won the Neustadt prize .I must say given all that she is still not well-known in the english speaking world and really should be .

This collection the first of two books I got by her from the library is a collection of short stories and a 80 page novella Felicie’s body ,I ll leave the stories mainly set in Algeria and all dealing with a female perspective on what it is to be a women in modern Algeria ,Felicie’s body deals with a women near the end of her life and indeed after her death she is french catholic and was married for her life to her Algerian husband who died before her now nearing the end of her life we see her having to take a muslim name to be buried beside her beloved husband this story really catches what it is to be between two worlds as this family is some of her children drawn to Algeria other to France we see how this family copes with her death of the mother and her wishes to be buried beside her husband in Algeria .

You arrive on a Monday morning in February ,unconscious already.In the ambulance ,I sit down next to my sister Ourdia ,who’s come with you from Oran .I tell myself this time you’ve come to die by my side ,right under my eyes .But will you at least look at me ,just once ? Smile at me ,maybe talk ?

The opening of Felicie’s body .

I was trying to  think of a way to sum up her writing and how it impacted me but I think  she  has  best summed up by a quote of her own –

I write like many other Algerian women with a sense of urgency against regression and misogyny .

That sums up so well how this book grabbed me and her as a writer feisty and lots of strong female characters .I asked my self is this a potential nobel winner having read other Nobel winners work and the answers is yes and I hope she does so her work can reach a wider audiences of readers .Her’s is a voice that lifts the lid on the female Muslim world of north africa and also how these women or there families are effected in France .The translation works a treat her the translator is new to me but has done a great job here .The book was published in the US  by seven stories press in 2006 and the original stories were published in French in 1997 .

Have you read her works ?

Have you a favourite North African writer ?

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Parrish
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 21:17:29

    Hi Stu, can I count Albert Camus in which case I’ve read a few, but concerning this writer I did a little bit of checking and found this Algerian White: A Narrative by Assia Djebar (Many Algerian writers and intellectuals have died tragically and violently since the 1956 struggle for independence. They include three beloved friends of Djebar: Mahfoud Boucebi, a psychiatrist; M’Hamed Boukhobza, a sociologist; and Abdelkader Alloula, a dramatist; as well as Albert Camus)
    have downloaded a sample to my Kindle & will let you know how I get on with it


  2. amymckie
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 23:08:13

    Hey Assia Djebar is totally a favorite author of mine 😀 So glad you enjoyed your first read of her work. Algerian White, So Vast the Prison, and Women of Algiers in their Apartments were all absolutely fantastic. I’m looking forward to reading this one some day soon as I have it on my shelf.


  3. Penny
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 23:12:12

    Is the title a proverb? Perhaps Berber or Algerian?


  4. Gavin
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 00:08:23

    Thanks for introducing me to Assia Djebar, Stu.


  5. MJ
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 10:05:47

    Hi Stu,

    I’ve read Algerian White and thought it was excellent, even though I didn’t know the vast majority of people she was talking about. I’ve really been wanting to read some of her fiction, especially Fantasia, An Algerian Cavalcade. This story collection sounds good, too.


  6. Geosi
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 15:23:59

    This is one good writer i am yet to read.


  7. Kinna
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:44:59

    Love Djebar, Taib Salih and Mahfouz. I would like to try more contemporary works however.


  8. Trackback: Woman in translation Five from the Archive | Winstonsdad's Blog

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October 2011


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