March 18, 1998 Algerian-Born French Writer Assia Djebar to Read at Library of Congress

Press Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

WHO: eminent francophone writer Assia Djebar

WHAT: will read in French and in English from her works

WHEN: 6:45 p.m., March 25

WHERE: Mumford Room, sixth floor, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E.

WHY: as part of the continuing New Literature from Europe Series

HOW: The reading is co-sponsored by the Library's Office of Scholarly Programs and European Division, the European Union, the European Commission and the French Embassy.


Ms. Djebar (ne Fatima-Zohra Imalhayne), was born in Algeria. A longtime resident of France, she is now Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Trained as a historian of the Maghreb--the northwestern part of Africa closest to the Mediterranean Sea that includes Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia--Ms. Djebar has produced poetry, short stories, documentary films and novels. She maintains her focus on her native Algeria and works in her native French language.

Ms. Djebar will read selections from her works, including Loin de Mdine: Filles d'Ismal, (1991); Far from Medina: Daughters of Ismal); Vaste est la prison (1995; Eng. trans. in progress); Le Blanc de l'Algrie (1996; Eng. trans. in progress); and Oran, langue morte (1997).

Ms. Djebar unveils to a wider world a history and culture not fully accessible to those outside--and even to many of those within -- the Islamic world, especially women. She brings attention to their lives, thoughts and aspirations.

Although Ms. Djebar is accomplished as a documentary filmmaker, her writing is much more than documentary. Referring to her Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement (1980; Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, 1992), American writer William Gass stated: "The lyricism which comes through the French to us is indeed like a painter's light and falls softly through a curtain on Ms. Djebar's affecting scenes, as if we were supposed to see a woman bathing in a Pierre Bonnard or a dancer in a Degas and not a woman weeping in her kitchen, calling out to Allah for relief."

Ms. Djebar is the author of the four-volume Algerian Quartet, which includes L'amour, la fantasia (1985; Eng. Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade, 1988), Ombre sultane (1987; A Sister to Scheherazade, 1997; winner of Prix Liberator in Frankfurt), Vaste est la prison (1995; Vast is the Prison; trans. forthcoming from Heineman Publishers) and Le blanc de l'Algerie (1996; The White of Algeria; trans. in progress).

In 1996 she was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Le de l'Algrie, a rcit about the writers killed in Algeria in recent years, dedicated in part to her brother-in-law. In 1997, she was awarded the Marguerite Yourcenaur Prize, given to a francophone writer who resides permanently in the United States and publishes in French.


PR 98-046
ISSN 0731-3527