After being secretly proud of myself for keeping my readerly expectations (aka excess baggage) to a minimum when I reviewed the last two much hyped novelists back to back. I had no such prejudice subconscious or otherwise in starting Algerian novelist Assia Djebar?s 1985 novel,Fantasia, An Algerian Cavalcade
. In fact, I had never heard of her, and this book only made my review desk based on authors lists that have been floating around listing possible Nobel prize contenders (now, be honest, most of you have not heard of half these writers either?)
My brow (low as is it) raised when I read that Assia Djebar is the owner of some serious literary credentials: 1996 Neustad Prize winner, and the Yourcenar prize the following year. She became a member of the prestigious Acad?mie fran?aise in 2005 and she is currently professor of Francophone Literature at New York University.
I will admit now up front, that seeing the name ?Assia?, and ?Algeria? and the title ?Fantasia?, and 226 pages short, I had almost visualized notions of a ?lighter? read. I was surprised when I thumbed the first few pages to see a Glossary (of Berber-Arabic), a Chronology (Algerian History) and the contents listing the three titled parts to the narrative, with the last one broken into five ?movements?. Notice was duly taken, I settled into the book. When the desert dust and last shrill clamor faded, I found myself inexplicably on the other side of a Fantasia, and Assia Djebar?s third novel?
(cultural definition): An equestrian event, a traditional closing of a Berber wedding celebration, it is a martial performance, and also is referred to as the ?Game of Gunpowder? it symbolizes a strong attachment to tradition. Fantasia
(musical definition): a musical composition featuring free improvisation by the composer.
: A procession or parade, that focuses on a re-enactment of important historical events. It is a participation event, as opposed to a spectacle.