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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
French honour for Algerian writer
Assia Djebar
Djebar now teaches French literature at New York University
The official body that rules on use of the French language - the Academie Francaise - has for the first time admitted a North African woman.

Algerian writer Assia Djebar, 69, joined the prestigious 40-member body at a ceremony on Thursday. The members are known as "immortals".

Djebar's first novel La Soif (The Mischief) was published in 1956.

Her works are noted for confronting the obstacles faced by women in Algerian society. She settled in France in 1980.

She is one of only four women members of the Academie Francaise, which was founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu.

The "immortals" are elected by members of the Academy for their contributions to the French language.

Marguerite Yourcenar was the first woman to join the Academie, in 1980.

In 1955 Djebar, born Fatima Zohra Imalayen, became the first Algerian woman to be admitted to the Ecole Normale Superieure, an elite college near Paris.

Djebar's other works include Les Impatients (The Impatient Ones), published in 1958, and Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde (The Children of the New World), published in 1962.

Her novels, written in French, have been translated into several languages.

She was born in Cherchell, a village about 100km (60 miles) from Algiers, in 1936.


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