'“Née à Tunis virgule Tunisie”: Avenue de France de Colette Fellous' in Expressions maghrébines, CICLIM, USA, 2006
Although Fellous has become an award-winning mainstream writer, no academic research devoted to her work had been undertaken prior my article in Expressions maghrébines, the foremost journal of North African literary studies published through the Coordination Internationale des Chercheurs sur les Littératures Maghrébines (CICLIM). This article was selected for a special issue on Tunisia.
In approaching Fellous’ work I benefited from having a shared experience of the newly-independent Tunisia of her youth and the opportunity to interview her personally. Consequently, the article focuses on her own exploration of the complexities of her identity. My study follows Fellous’ 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. Analysis is made of the ways in Fellous’ 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 circumference where she once belonged and whose language and culture is for her an abandoned and grieved-for heritage. I also considered 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. Also interrogated in this study is the significance of Fellous’ multimedia writing, integrating photography, cinema, music and art to amplify her own literary technique. Finally Fellous is situated in respect to Albert Memmi, the great figure of Tunisian literature in French and postcolonial theory, in terms of continuity, yet divergent as a piece of post-modern post-postcolonial writing.