Writer and Filmmaker
Hijri 1355-1436 (AH); Common Era 1936-2015 (CE)
Born with the name Fatima-Zohra Imalayen, in 1936 in Cherchell, Algeria, Assia Djebar would become the country’s most distinguished female writer. Through her novels and film Ms. Djebar challenged colonial histories in order to redefine notions of Algerian culture, specifically through the female voice. Ms. Djebar was the first Algerian women to be accepted at the École Normale Supérieure, a prestigious French institute for higher education in Paris. In 1957, she published her first novel La Soif under the pen name Assia Djebar. Between 1957 to 1967 she wrote four novels (La Soif, Les Impatients, Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde, Les Alouettes Naives), which all dealt with the political realities of colonial and post-colonial Algeria. After studying classical Arabic in the 1970s, Djebar has attempted to write in both French and Arabic. When writing in French Ms. Djebar has added sounds and rhythms of the Arabic language and received applause for turning the language of the colonizer, French, into language of resistance. At the University of Algeria, Ms. Djebar taught history and since the 1990s she has been recognized for a number of awards, and she was recently nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.