Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade
by Assia Djebar; translated by Dorothy S. Blair
227 pages. Heinemann. $17.25
Assia Djebar (pen name of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen) grew up in post-colonization Algeria. The daughter of a French schoolteacher, she was plagued with the ethical dilemma of speaking French and going to school, unlike her Muslim peers. In Fantasia, she writes about her country’s complicated history through letters, diaries, and pieces of her own biography, jumping back and forth from the 1830 French invasion to the 20th century War of Algerian Independence to the present. Djebar purposefully complicates the chronology of these events to reveal the illusion of linear history. Through it all, she struggles to transcribe the Arabic oral traditions of female revolutionaries into French, suggesting the inevitable influence of globalization.