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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by David Kelley and Marjolijn de Jager

In Algerian White, Assia Djebar weaves an epic tapestry out of her intimate connection to a group of Algerian writers and intellectuals whose lives were cut short since since the 1956 struggle for independence. They include Mahfoud Boucebi, a psychiatrist; M’Hamed Boukhobza, a sociologist; and Abdelkader Alloula, a dramatist—the beloved friends to whom she dedicates the book—as well as Albert Camus. She records the horrors of her country’s civil wars and untangles the complex political and social issues that led to the long trail of the blood. This unique book grows from conversations remembered and imagined, meditations on her fallen literary peers and predecessors. Yet for Djebar, they cannot be silenced. They continue to tell stories, smile, and endure through her defiant pen. This cultural and political history of Algeria’s cross-cultural reality and its fight against colonization is infused with the oral tradition of Djebar’s Berber roots.

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“A hymn to friendship and the enduring power of language, [Algerian White ] is also a requiem for a nation's unfinished literature.”

“Assia Djebar has given weeping its words and longing its lyrics.”

“There is not one line of theory in Algerian White. It goes much further. It whispers that time passes, but not only time, life also, life stolen by terror, a white life, of this white in which all vivid colors merge and vanish.”

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A beloved author, translator, and filmmaker, Assia Djebar (1936–2015) was born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen in the Algerian town of Cherchell. Her novels and poems boldly faced the challenges and struggles she knew as a feminist living under patriarchy, and as an intellectual living under colonialism and its aftermath. Djebar’s writing, marked by a regal unwillingness to compromise in the face of ethical, linguistic, and narrative complexities, attracted devoted followers around the world, and received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Venice International Critics’ Prize, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Yourcenar Prize, the Frankfurt Peace Prize, and a knighthood in France’s Legion of Honor. She was the first Algerian woman to be admitted to France’s prestigious École Normale Supérieure, and the first writer from the Maghreb to be admitted to the Académie Française.