CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 27, 2001
Community reading project ends with conversation with Algerian writer
CITY, Iowa -- The culmination of the six-week community reading project, "All
Johnson County Reads the Same Book," will be conversation about Tahar
Djaout's novel "The Last Summer of Reason," with Algerian author
Assia Djebar. The conversation, entitled, "The First Winter of Reason:
Writing, Human Rights, and the New World Order," is free and open to
the public and is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the Buchanan
Auditorium (Room W10) of the Pappajohn Business Building on the University
of Iowa campus.
Just before her visit to Iowa City, Djebar's 1976 documentary "La Nouba
des femmes de Mort Chenoua," will be shown on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 4-6
p.m. in Room 101, Becker Communication Studies Building (BCSB). This event
is also free and open to the public. This film, which won the Venice Biennale
Critics' Prize, mingles narrative and documentary styles to document the creation
of women's personal and cultural histories. Its title and structure are taken
from the "Nouba," a traditional song of five movements. Reading
the history of her country as written in the stories of women's lives, Djebar's
film is an engrossing portrait of speech and silence, memory and creation,
and a tradition where the past and present coexist.
Also on Dec. 2, there will be a screening of the film Itto, by French directors
Marie Epstein and Jean-Benoit Levy from 6:30-8:30 p.m., in room 203 BCSB.
This is a rarely seen feature by two of the interwar French film industry's
most progressive filmmakers about the meeting between French colonial officials
and Moroccan/Berber insurgents, and the women on both sides of the conflict.
Djebar, a novelist, scholar, poet, and filmmaker, writes in French, and
her books have been translated into many languages. Those currently available
in English are "Women of Algiers in their Apartment" (1992), "A
Sister to Scheherezade" (1993), "Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade"
(1993), "Far from Madina" (1994), "A Prison So Vast" (1995),
and "Algerian White" (2001). An Algerian with Berber roots, she
was educated in France and in her homeland.
Djebar won the prestigious Neustadt Prize for Contributions to World Literature
in 1996 for "perceptively crossing borders of culture, language, and
history in her fiction and poetry." Among her many other literary prizes
are the Yourcenar Prize in 1997 and the German Publishers' Peace Award in
2000. In that year, she was also awarded the French Legion of Honor. At present
she is a professor of French and Francophone Studies at New York University.
"All Johnson County Reads the Same Book," is a countywide reading
project sponsored by the UI Center for Human Rights and others. Adult and
adolescents in Johnson County have been invited to read and discuss "The
Last Summer of Reason" by the late Algerian writer Tahar Djaout. The
book, which was chosen for the project before the events of Sept. 11, involves
a bookstore owner who is in a country being taken over by radical conservatives
who want to reshape society to fit their rigid, moralistically extreme theology.
For details about the overall project, consult the Web site for the UI Center
for Human Rights at <www.uichr.org>
where pertinent discussion notes and questions are posted. For an on-line
discussion of the book, see <www.press-citizen.com>.
Project sponsors in addition to the UI Center for Human Rights are the UI
International Writing Program, Prairie Lights Bookstore, the Iowa City Human
Rights Commission, and the Iowa City and Coralville public libraries. Cosponsors
include Hancher Auditorium, the UI Institute for Cinema and Culture, UI International
Programs, the University Book Store, Iowa Book and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Iowa City High School and the West High School Library are also formal participants
in the project.