Leila Sebbar grew up in French colonial Algeria where her parents taught French to the indigenous children. The daughter of a metropolitan French woman and an Algerian, Sebbar is a croisée. At the height of the Algerian War, Sebbar left her homeland to pursue her university studies in France. She became a French teacher and made France her home. Sebbar writes in her mother tongue, but she treats it like a foreign language. Although she never learned Arabic and left Algeria, her paternal identity haunts all of her writings. Anchored by the notion of exile, Sebbar drifts between two shores as she seeks to personally come to terms with both a pied-noir and Algerian identity bequeathed by her parents. This dual and contradictory identity allows Sebbar to explore the colonial legacy inherent to immigration in France. Continually on the move or on the run, Sebbar's eccentric protagonists follow a geographical itinerary which acknowledges the common history and cultural heritage of Europe and the Arab world. In forging a new identity for the France of tomorrow, this génération métisse attempts to work through the torturous relationship between France and its former colonies that continues to mark cultural manifestations and political events in France.
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"The Mother Tongue of Leila Sebbar,"
Studies in 20th Century Literature:
1, Article 5.