Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, Translated by Marjolijn de Jager, Afterword by Clarisse Zimra

Assia Djebar, Author, Marjolijn de Jager, Translator, Clarisse Zimra, Photographer
Assia Djebar, Author, Marjolijn de Jager, Translator, Clarisse Zimra, Photographer University of Virginia Press $37.5 (211p) ISBN 978-0-8139-1402-2
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-8139-1880-8
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Like the 19th-century Delacroix paintings of harem women from which it takes its title, this collection of six stories and an essay--published in 1980 in French--depicts moments in the lives of Algerian women. More than a century after Delacroix, and three decades after Algeria won its political independence from France, these Muslim women are still cultural prisoners. In the long title story, Sarah is only one of many characters straddling past and present: scarred from years of torture and prison, now married (to a man she chose for herself) and making a documentary about Algiers, she still goes to the Turkish baths and participates in the old rituals. Like her creator, she can ``see only one single way to unblock everything: talk, talk without stopping . . . '' The author of seven novels and the scripts for two films, Djebar records the talk: ``Fragmented, remembered, reconstituted conversations . . . Fictitious accounts . . . uttered from lips beneath a mask.'' Even in translation the prose can be vividly pictorial as well as poetic, but it also tends to be opaque, and--aside from those of one or two shorter pieces--the story lines are hard to follow. In an essay and an interview with Djebar, Zimra provides biographical information and also conveys Djebar's intense personal voice. (Nov.)
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