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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry

Algerian Stories

by Assia Djebar

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Translated by Tegan Raleigh

What happens when catastrophe becomes an everyday occurrence? Each of the seven stories in Assia Djebar’s The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry reaches into the void where normal and impossible realities coexist. All the stories were written in 1995 and 1996—a time when, by official accounts, some two hundred thousand Algerians were killed in Islamist assassinations and government army reprisals. Each story grew from a real conversation on the streets of Paris between the author and fellow Algerians about what was happening in their native land.

Contemporary events are joined on the page by classical themes in Arab literature, whether in the form of Berber texts sung by the women of the Mzab or the tales from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry beautifully explores the conflicting realities of the role of women in the Arab world. With renowned and unparalleled skill, Assia Djebar gives voice to her longing for a world she has put behind her.

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“It is precious, this opportunity to hear these voices.”

“Assia Djebar . . . has given weeping its words and longing its lyrics.”

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A beloved author, translator, and filmmaker, Assia Djebar (1936–2015) was born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen in the Algerian town of Cherchell. Her novels and poems boldly faced the challenges and struggles she knew as a feminist living under patriarchy, and as an intellectual living under colonialism and its aftermath. Djebar’s writing, marked by a regal unwillingness to compromise in the face of ethical, linguistic, and narrative complexities, attracted devoted followers around the world, and received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Venice International Critics’ Prize, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Yourcenar Prize, the Frankfurt Peace Prize, and a knighthood in France’s Legion of Honor. She was the first Algerian woman to be admitted to France’s prestigious École Normale Supérieure, and the first writer from the Maghreb to be admitted to the Académie Française.