“Née à Tunis virgule Tunisie” : Avenue de France de Colette Fellous
Carpenter-Latiri, Dora (2006) “Née à Tunis virgule Tunisie” : Avenue de France de Colette Fellous Expressions maghrébines, 5 (1). pp. 97-111. ISSN 1540-0085
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This is the first academic article on Fellous, who is now an award-winning mainstream writer. In approaching her work I was in the position of having a shared experience of the newly-independent Tunisia of her youth and being able to interview her personally. My article focuses on her own exploration of the complexities of her identity: it follows Fellous’s travels back and forth from the centre to the periphery, her itinerary between many opposites in her life and the literary transposition in the form of the novel. I analyse how her writing travels in time and space, using her own life and history to tie together a past in Tunis and a present in Paris and the ambiguities this involves: a life in the metropolitan and cosmopolitan centre where she is integrated, whose language she speaks and whose culture she has assimilated, and the movement back to the periphery where she once belonged and whose language and culture is for her an abandoned and grieved-for heritage. I also consider the other dimensions of her identity, the Jewish French-speaker in an Arab country, the feminist in a macho environment, the daughter, her mother’s daughter and her daughter’s mother. I also look at the significance of her multimedia writing, integrating photography, cinema, music and art to amplify her own literary technique. Finally I attempt to situate her in respect to Albert Memmi, the great figure of Tunisian literature in French and postcolonial theory.
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