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Women Fight, Women Write

Texts on the Algerian War
Mildred Mortimer

BUY Cloth · 284 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942049 · $59.50 · Nov 2018
BUY Ebook · 284 pp. · ISBN 9780813942063 · $59.50 · Nov 2018
BUY Paper · 284 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942056 · $29.50 · Nov 2018

Today, the "fight to write"—the struggle to become the legitimate chronicler of one’s own story—is being waged and won by women across mediums and borders. But such battles of authorship extend well beyond a single cultural moment.

In her gripping study of unsung female narratives of the Algerian War, Mildred Mortimer excavates and explores the role of women’s individual and collective memory in recording events of the violent anticolonial conflict. Presenting close readings of published works spanning five decades—from Assia Djebar’s 1962 Children of the New World to Zohra Drif’s 2014 Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter— Women Fight, Women Write traces stylistic and material transformations in Algerian women’s writings as it reveals evolving attitudes toward memory, trauma, historical objectivity, and women’s political empowerment. Refuting the stale binary of men in battle, women at home, these testimonial texts let women lay claim to the Algerian War story as participants and also as chroniclers through fiction, historical studies, and memoir.

Algeria’s patriarchal norms long kept women from speaking publicly about private matters, silencing their experiences of the war. Still, the conflict has ceaselessly sparked creative work. The country’s dark decade of violent struggle between the Algerian army and Islamist fundamentalists in the 1990s brought the liberation struggle back into focus, inspiring and emboldening many more women to defiantly write. Women Fight, Women Write advances the broken silence, illuminating its vital historical revisions and literary innovations.


"An exceptionally compelling study of some of the most prominent Algerian women authors of the twentieth century. Mortimer’s work will keep alive their contributions—physically, literarily, and symbolically."

Valérie K. Orlando, University of Maryland, College Park, author of The Algerian New Novel: The Poetics of a Modern Nation, 1950-1979

Mildred Mortimer’s beautiful book investigates Francophone literary, historical, and testimonial texts that recall and reflect upon women’s participation in the Algerian war of independence from the French. These texts were written by women from Algeria between 1962 and 2016. Whether addressing classics such as the works of Djamila Amrane, Maïssa Bey, Assia Djebar, Yamina Mechakra, and Leïla Sebbar or lesser-known works by Zohra Drif and Evelyne Safir Lavalette, Mortimer’s analyses are superb and compelling. Her long-standing scholarly expertise on the topic and recent on-site research results in an original and comprehensive longitudinal study that will be of interest to specialists and general readers alike.

Anne Donadey, San Diego State University, author of Recasting Postcolonialism: Women Writing Between Worlds

Women Fight, Women Write is a welcome and comprehensive study of Algerian women’s writing on war.... Mortimer’s work is an important contribution that brings to the forefront written and cinematic testimony of women’s participation in creating the modern nation of Algeria—a role that has all too often been overlooked in the national narrative.

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

The acknowledgement of women’s participation in armed conflict oftentimes conceals the assumption of a subservient, deferential role in the war effort. MildredMortimer goes against this assumption by offering an in-depth analysis of thecounter-intuitive paradigms around women at war, all while producing a transcendental account of the violence experienced, perpetrated, and most importantly, told and narrated by the Algerian moudjahidat ((f.; pl.) militant) of theNational Liberation Army (Armée de Libération Nationale - ALN) against theFrench occupier between 1954 and 1962.

Journal of North African Studies

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