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Women of Algiers in Their Apartment

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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  477 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The cloth edition of Assia Djebar's Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, her first work to be published in English, was named by the American Literary Translators Association as an ALTA Outstanding Translation of the Year. Now available in paperback, this collection of three long stories, three short ones, and a theoretical postface by one of North Africa's leading writers ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 29th 1999 by University of Virginia Press (first published 1980)
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Samantha I think the fact that the Algerian culture is so unknown is what adds most of the ambiguity. We're getting a glance inside a culture we've heard…moreI think the fact that the Algerian culture is so unknown is what adds most of the ambiguity. We're getting a glance inside a culture we've heard about, yet it's so different from how we perceived it. I think the purpose of the novel is to remove the ambiguity surrounding the culture while demonstrating that these men and women are just like us in a way. They suffer, they love, they hurt. They have entire lives we've never really heard about. This book is the first time I've read anything about Algerian culture and it's been eye opening.

I also think that the violence in the novel adds tension and ambiguity. They never really show you the violence that's happening, but it's alluded to often and you see the aftermaths of it through the characters perspectives. People they love/know have died, their homes have been taken. Many of the women want freedom, and they want to return to their homeland. (less)

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3.64  · 
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Aubrey
3.5/5

There are books that, once read, prove themselves more yardstick than treasure map. All works are a measure of both, but whether it is due to the simple nature of this work in particular or my still uncomfortable state as an unemployed Bachelor's in English, I fell short of its mark and my goal. While I deeply appreciate the gloriously informative afterword, part review, part biography, part onlooker to a grand and singularly authorial quest, I would have to pretend to graciously accept its
...more
Lucinda
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well, this is a book that deals with so many issues – feminism, language, nationalism, colonialism, history and place, and how all of these are inter-related. Basically, too much for me to handle without writing some sort of thesis-length paper (and I am sure there are people who have written theses on this book), so I will apologise in advance if this review is partial (in the sense of not enough). Also, I feel like I need to apologise for attempting to write on this book without being familiar ...more
Ferris
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The title of this collection refers to a painting by Eugene Delacroix, which was allegedly inspired by a brief visit inside the harem of a home in Morocco. The painting and the stories in this collection depict the emotional and intellectual state of women hidden within walls and the veil. It is also a collection comprised of haunting, evocative prose which stirs the deepest aspect of the reader's self. The yearnings, fears, coping mechanisms, faith, belief, and suffering of the women in these s ...more
Lisa
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I began this book because the group diversity in all its forms was reading it and I wanted to participate in the discussion about it. I generally love reading novels that are based in countries throughout the world so that I can learn about those cultures. Unfortunately, this collection of short stories was very inaccessible for me. I found that it jumped suddenly from one character to another without indicating that and it was hard for me to follow. It may have been an issue of the quality of t ...more
Victor Lopez
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
For a long time now, the Western world has seen Arab countries as being this magical place of genies, women who are only there to be sexed, they have basically placed the many countries under their own, man made, veil. This allows for Western leaders to point to Arab countries and say, “Look there, we treat our women so much better.” Those folks point to the “other” to make themselves look better. Those who want to look deeper and think more globally, will turn to novels such as this to leaven t ...more
Jane
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Probably one of the best books I read this past year. The stories in this are wide ranging, but nearly all of them are concerned with the lives (inner and otherwise) of Algerian women throughout history (though most are rooted in the 20th century, both before and after the Algerian struggle for independence from French colonial rule). The title story was probably my favorite: it's a sprawling story that goes in and out of the consciousness and experiences of different women living in Algiers. Th ...more
Mεδ Rεδħα
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
In 1832, in recently conquered Algiers, Delacroix broke into a harem for a few hours. He brings back a masterpiece, Women of Algiers in their apartment, which remains a "stolen glance".

A century and a half later, twenty years after the war of independence in which the Algerian women played a role that no one can dispute, how do they live on a daily basis, what margin of freedom could they conquer?
Martina Zuliani
The book is composed by some short-medium lenght novels that focus on women in the times of Algerian independence. Yet, the characters are common women, having common lifes and common problems. Most is about their thoughts and sadness and the same feelings could be applied to many women worldwide. The result is a deeply realistic book, to whom people can relate and recognise the character feelings as human ones.
Jenn
Jun 25, 2010 added it
I think about this book a lot...it is sort of weird and random that I think about this book a lot, but I do.
Jack
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Read as part of my Modern Languages degree at Durham University for the module 'Introduction to Francophone Literature and Culture'.
Helynne
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I am a fan and a champion of francophone literature from Africa, particularly Magrebine stories by women in Algeria, Morocco, or Tunisia written either during or after the French colonial period. Assia Djebar is probably the best-known and respected francophone woman author of Algerian origin, although, fortunately, the list of wonderful Magrebine woman writers grows longer every year. (Some write in French and some in Arabic; Djebar's novels are all available in English translation as are more ...more
Scott Cox
The title of this novel comes from Delacroix’s famous painting created from memory of his stay in Algeria during the early 1800’s. The painting features three Algerian women seated in front of a hookah with a black slave woman looking backwards towards them. The painting becomes a metaphor for Djebar’s six short stories of women’s lives during the time of the Algerian war for liberation from France (1950’s & 1960’s). During this bloody period an estimated one million Algerians were killed. I ...more
Monique
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Meh. I thinkI needed to know more about the Algerian culture and its history to really appreciate this. It didn't help that I had the most monotone lecturer of my life for this text either. I enjoyed fragments but I felt confused way too much.
Katherine Jocelyne
So I enjoyed it but I also read it for one of my classes so I think that made me enjoy it a little less than I could have. I did read it in French and in English after. It definitely loses a bit in translation but most books do. Overall I did like it.
Pierre Roy
Écriture qui se lie probablement bien par les autres membres de l'académie mais peut-être un peu ardue pour le lecteur commun.
Priti
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's not for me.
Samantha
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
The ambiguity of the Algerian culture was what made this book so interesting for me. We gain insight into a world we've only ever heard about. We see through the eyes of the oppressed, the silenced, the veiled. We see their triumphs, failures. Their suffering. Each short story was unique and provided a different viewpoint. I wouldn't say this book was fun to read, but it was educational and interesting. I found myself unable and unwilling to put it down. I felt compelled to keep reading until th ...more
Andrés Velásquez
Ces histoires nous montrent le plus profond de la vie de la femme algérienne dans une société à la recherche de son identité et soumise par l'islam et les contradictions propres d'une ex-colonie française. Assia Djebar dessine des portraits des femmes d'Alger comme s'il s'agissait de Delcroix ou de Picasso. Son écriture est sublime, par fois troublante et déconcertante, belle et par fois difficile à lire à cause d'une multiplicité de voix qui se juxtaposent pour nous dévoiler des points de vue d ...more
Greg Fanoe
Dec 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
There was some good stuff here, but it was mostly just pretty boring. I'd be willing to believe this is just a bad translation, if somebody were to argue in favor of Ms. Djebar, but there's not much in here to recommend.

Edit: 2 years later, I literally could not tell you a single thing about this book. That's enough to downgrade it to one star, I think. Sorry Ms. Djebar!
Madeline
I think that Djebar has an interesting point of view and worthwhile things to say. But I either should not have read this in translation or it is just too...postmodern for me.

11/2015: Can't believe I read this six years ago. Almost seven! My strongest memory is of one of the stories where women go to the baths.
Betty
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-east
The short stories are written in an impressionistic style, at times seeming more like poems in the rhythm and mystery of the language. A very interesting voice of an Algerian woman living in France. The Algerian fight for independence is a backdrop for her stories. This collection also includes an essay about the Delacroix painting and an interview with the author by the editor.
Nic
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Difficult read. Afterforward really helped with understanding the context and nature of where Djebar was coming from. The actual title short story featured in the book surprisingly challenged me the most. I also found the book to be a bit pretentious now that I think about it, though a necessary social commentary.
Brittany
Jun 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked that this book was a collection of short stories but they told a greater story as a whole. I also liked the literary essay at the end by Dejebar in it we even get another short stroy. A great tale of the oppression and strength of the women of Algiers.
Luna Selene
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The stories in Women of Algiers in Their Apartment are deeply metaphorical and written in a beautiful, poetic stream of consciousness that may at times be hard to follow, but are well worth the read.
Pioup
2015 Reading Challenge: a book by an author you've never read before.
Julie
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and heartbreaking
Megan
rated it really liked it
Mar 23, 2019
Malika
rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2014
Malacorda
rated it really liked it
Jul 31, 2017
Laura
rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2014
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(the pen name of Fatma-Zohra Imalhayene)
أسيا جبار
Assia Djebar was born in Algeria to parents from the Berkani tribe of Dahra. She adopted the pen name Assia Djebar when her first novel, La Soif (Hunger) was published in 1957, in France where she was studying at the Sorbonne.

In 1958, she travelled to Tunis, where she worked as a reporter alongside Frantz Fanon, travelling to Algerian refugee camp
...more