Today Google remembers the late Assia Djebar (30 June 1936 – 6 February 2015) with a doodle.
Born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen, the berber-speaking Algerian novelist, translator and filmmaker, whose father is a French teacher, chose Assia Djebar as her pen name for fear of her father’s disapproval. In 1957, she published her first novel, La Soif (“The Thirst”). Her second book, Les Impatients, followed the next year.
After a failed first marriage, Assia Djebar married Algerian poet Malek Alloula in 1980, and the couple lived in Paris, France.
After a couple more publications (Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde – 1962 and Les Alouettes Naïves – 1967), Djebar published L’Amour, la fantasia in 1985 (translated as Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade, Heinemann, 1993), in which she “repeatedly states her ambivalence about language, about her identification as a Western-educated, Algerian, feminist, Muslim intellectual, about her role as spokesperson for Algerian women as well as for women in general.”
She was a true feminist and women empowerment advocate, as most of her works touched on the obstacles that women face.
In her review “Assia Djebar: In Dialogue with Feminisms”, Jane Hiddleston says of the Algerian pioneer woman that she is “frequently associated with women’s writing movements, her novels are clearly focused on the creation of a genealogy of Algerian women, and her political stance is virulently anti-patriarchal as much as it is anti-colonial.”
A highly successful Arab woman, Assia Djebar is one of North Africa’s outstanding and most influential writers. She was elected to the Académie française on 16 June 2005, thus being the first writer from the Maghreb to achieve such recognition. She was also awarded the 1996 Neustadt International Prize for Literature for the entirety of her works .
Djebar was often named as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was a Silver Chair professor of Francophone literature at New York University.
Assia Djebar died at the age of 81 in February 2015.