SHERAZADE, AGED 17, DARK CURLY HAIR, GREEN EYES, MISSING Sherazade is seventeen, Algerian, and a ¬runaway in Paris. Although she has no morals, no scruples, no politics, no apparent emotional depth and little education, Sherazade remains curiously unattached but innocent in the city's underworld of drop-outs, outcasts, political activists and junkies. With honesty and lyricism this novel exposes the various issues that affect a young woman living in a city which is both sophisticated and provincial, liberal and conservative, tolerant and prejudiced. In Paris, Sherazade is pursued by Julian, the son of French-Algerians who is an ardent Arabist. Pigeon-holed by Julian into the ¬traditional exotic mold, Sherazade endeavors to create her own definition of Algerian ¬femininity and in doing so breaks down conventions and stereotypes. It is Julian's obsession with her that spurs her on to self-discovery and to make decisions about her future. Sherazade is about a young woman haunted by her Algerian past. It is a powerful account of a person who searches for her true identity but is caught between worlds—Africa and Europe, her parents’ and her own, colony and capital. Ultimately it is an ¬account of possession, identity and the realities of urban life today and what can happen when society fails to acknowledge its younger generations.
Leila Sebbar was born in Algeria to a French mother and an Algerian father, both teachers until Independence. She studied in Paris and has lived there for the last twenty-five years. She is now a leading writer on Algerian feminist themes. Dorothy S. Blair translated books by Amin Maalouf, Nafissatou Diallo, Assia Djebar, Aicha Lemsine and others.
"Fresh, first-hand insight into the chaotic, marginalized lives of young, second-generation immigrants in a big city... This is the story of a young woman searching for self-definition. Following her path to self-realization, the reader is exposed to the underground world of transnational youth as well as to many references to the Algerian Revolution, to French and Algerian culture, to Orientalist paintings and French film. The author's writing style makes the story seems especially real and immediate. Sebbar reels off raw sensations, random occurrences and direct conversations at a rapid, sometimes dizzying, pace that approximates stream of consciousness. She also knows well the settings she describes. Born in Algeria to a French mother and an Algerian father, and having lived in Paris for many years, Sebbar straddles the two worlds between which her protagonist and other characters rotate."