From Assia Djebar Blog
mercredi 30 juillet 2008
Albert Russo parle avec Assia Djebar
Assia Djebar, a novelist, short-story writer, playwright, director and poet from Algeria and France, received Belgium's prestigious Maeterlinck prize for her writing and film work in 1995. She also was named the 1996 laureate of the University of Oklahoma's $40.000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Administered by the University of Oklahoma and its international quarterly, World Literature Today, the prize is awarded every two years by a jury of writers, critics and literary scholars from throughout the world. First presented in 1970 and endowed in 1992 by the Neustadt family of Ardmore, Oklahoma, the prize is the only international literary award emanating from the United States for which poets, playwrights and novelists are given equal consideration.
One indication of the prestige of the Neustadt Prize is its record of 19 laureates, candidates or jurors who in the past 25 years have been awarded Nobel Prizes following their involvement with the Neustadt award.
In a phone interview, the laureate remarked: "I'm very touched because the situation of the writers in my country is now very unfortunate. I'm happy for my country and for my fellow writers."
Djelal Kadir, editor of World Literature Today and chairman of the Neustadt Prize Jury, explained "Assia Djebar is a Neustadt laureate in the best tradition of Neustadt laureates. She is a novelist, poet, filmmaker and former Neustadt juror.
Barbara Frischmuth, a writer and translator from Austria and membre of the 1996 Neustadt Prize jury who nominated Djebar for the honor, said, "Assia Djebar is one of the most outstanding prose writers I've ever read. She has succeded in transforming the history of the country and her gender in literature."
Djebar was born in 1936 in Algeria and was the first Algerian woman admitted to the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure de Sèvres in 1955. Since the early 1980s she has held a research appointment at the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris. Her novels include Les Enfants du nouveau monde(1962), Les Alouettes naives (1967), L'Amour, la fantasia (1985) and Ombre sultane (1987). Vaste est la prison and Le blanc d'Algérie followed in 1995 and early 1996, respectively.
Djebar's stories of two decades were collected in 1980 under the title Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement, followed in 1991 by Loin de Medine, a volume of tales, narratives, scenes and recollections inspired by readings of Muslim historians who lived during the first centuries of Islam.
A collection of her verse appeared in 1969 as Poèmes pour l'Algérie heureuse. Djebar has directed several films, including the prize-winning La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua (1977) and, more recently, La Zerda et les chants de l'oubli. La nouba was accorded a first prize at the Venice Film Festival. In 1990 she served as a member of the Neustadt Prize jury. She has been nominated for the 1996 award by the Austrian novelist Barbara Frischmuth.
The 1996 laureate was picked by an 11-person jury, which met at the university's Norman campus March 28 though 30. Each candidate was nominated by a member of the jury composed of writers from around the world. Albert Russo was one of them