In her fictional depiction of the aftermath of Algeria’s 2003 earthquake Surtout ne te retourne pas, Maïssa Bey transgresses conventional narrative strategies to counter patriarchal depictions and silencing of Algerian women by exposing religious fanaticism and bringing sexual taboos to the forefront of the storyline. The main character and narrator Amina’s break from her family after the earthquake (which acts as a metaphor for other events in Amina’s story) is a crucial moment in the narrative. It symbolizes the disruption in her identity and memory, and the growing awareness and awakening of her sexuality. The novel denounces repressive patriarchal, polarized sexualized structures, and its multiple layers of narration and complexity of the characters’ identities recreate a new, egalitarian social order, suggesting that the agency of contemporary Muslim Algerian women belongs in dominant discourses. The multiplicity of the main character’s identities in Surtout ne te retourne pas suggests parallels between Algerian women, the Algerian nation, Algerian histories and memories.


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pp. 72-84
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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