Assia Djebar

آسيا جبار‎
Cherchell, Algeria

Algeria’s most prominent contemporary writer, Assia Djebar (Fatima-Zohra Imalayène) was born in Cherchell, a small coastal city approximately sixty miles from Algiers, in 1936. Her father, a schoolteacher in the French colonial school system who believed strongly in the value of French language education, encouraged his daughter to pursue higher education, a path rarely taken by young Algerian women of her generation. Her first published text, La Soif (translated into English as ‘The Mischief’), was published in 1957 during the Algerian liberation struggle. The author of 21 literary works and 2 films, Djebar was the first African woman writer elected to the prestigious Académie Française, (selected in 2006). In addition, she has been mentioned more than once, including 2011, as a serious contender for the Nobel Prize in literature. In her texts, Djebar charts her country’s history from colonial conquest to the post independence period. She explores social issues such as new roles for women, male-female relationships, reviewing Algeria’s colonial past, all of which impact upon Algeria today as well as her own personal struggles with identity, language, and the craft of writing. The following excerpt is taken from her most recent autobiographical novel, Nulle part dans la maison de mon père [Nowhere in my father’s house] (Fayard, 2007).

Biography by Mildred Mortimer


Nowhere in my Father’s House

Assia Djebar
Algeria (Original Language: French)

‘THE RIPPED UP LETTER’ A ripped up letter: we are still in the village, during the first days of July 1952. It is my sixteenth summer, I believe. My father’s angry face hovers over the letter written to me by a person I do not know, a letter my father has just ripped up. I …

Further Reading

Donadey, Anne. Recasting Postcolonialism Women: Writing Between Worlds. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001.

Kelly, Debra. Autobiography and Independence: Selfhood and Creativity in North African Postcolonial Writing in French. (Chapter 5: Assia Djebar). Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2005.

Mortimer, Mildred. “Assia Djebar’s Algerian Quartet: A Study in Fragmented Autobiography.” Research in African Literatures: Autobiography and African Literature 28.2 (Summer 1997): 102-17.