Synopses & Reviews
So Vast the Prison is the double-threaded story of a modern, educated Algerian woman existing in a man's society, and, not surprisingly, living a life of contradictions. Djebar, too, tackles cross-cultural issues just by writing in French of an Arab society (the actual act of writing contrasting with the strong oral traditions of the indigenous culture), as a woman who has seen revolution in a now post-colonial country, and as an Algerian living in exile.
In this new novel, Djebar brilliantly plays these contradictions against the bloody history of Carthage, a great civilization the Berbers were once compared to, and makes it both a tribute to the loss of Berber culture and a meeting-point of culture and language. As the story of one woman's experience in Algeria, it is a private tale, but one embedded in a vast history.
A radically singular voice in the world of literature, Assia Djebar's work ultimately reaches beyond the particulars of Algeria to embrace, in stark yet sensuous language, the universal themes of violence, intimacy, ostracism, victimization, and exile.
Assia Djebar's latest novel explores the contradictions of being a modern, educated Algerian woman trying to survive in a man's society. Set against the backdrop of bloody Carthage, the novel celebrates one woman's attempt to transcend history.
Includes bibliographical references.
About the Author
With her Berber and Muslim roots, her accomplishments as an Arab woman at the highest echelons of Western society in France and America, and her relentless output as a novelist and filmmaker, ASSIA DJEBAR speaks for the women, the poor, victims of both terrorism and the “War on Terror” that began in Algeria forty years before it arrived on US soil, and provides a much needed alternative voice to the litanies of the “experts.” Djebar won the Neustadt Prize in 1996, Germany’s Peace Prize in 2000, and in 2005 became the first Arab woman elected to the Académie Française. She is Silver Professor of Francophone Literature and Civilization at NYU. Djebar lives in Paris and New York.