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