Djebbar Devient Immortelle

Algerian writer Assia Djebbar has joined the ranks of the Academie Francaise this year. (For those unfamiliar with the body: it’s got 40 members, the vast majority of whom are white men, not all of them writers by vocation, and their role is vaguely defined as “watching over the French language.”) I remember as a kid reading (in Paris-Match, of all places) that Marguerite Yourcenar was the first woman to be elected member. (In 1980. I mean, seriously!)

I love Assia Djebbar’s work, and I can see how this is a huge honor for her, but it strikes me as slightly ironic (though unremarkable, perhaps) that she is now charged with protecting the language of her country’s previous colonizer. On the other hand, ‘francophonie’ isn’t going away anytime soon, and if millions and millions of North Africans are going to speak the language, then they might as well be represented in the body that produces the ultimate resource on French–Le Dictionnaire. Maybe she can get them to put the word “Beur” in it.

Those unfamiliar with Assia Djebbar should really check out L’amour, La Fantasia, which is available in English.

Link cribbed from Lit Saloon.