‘The Last One’ by Fatima Daas Wins Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt Prize

This week, Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt announced the 2021 winner of their International Literature Prize:

French-Algerian writer Fatima Daas and her translator, Sina de Malafosse, jointly received the prize for the German translation of Daas’s debut novel, La petite dernière, translated as Die jüngste Tochter and published by Claassen in May 2021. The novel was chosen from a shortlist of six books in German translation.

Daas, the daughter of Algerian parents, was born in 1995 in France and has studied creative writing in Paris. She writes under a pseudonym. La petite dernière was published last year by Les Éditions Noir sur Blanc and won the 2020 Prix Les Inrockuptibles for the best debut novel.

De Malafosse was born in 1984 and studied Romance languages in Germany and France. She has previously translated works by Adeline Dieudonné, Pauline Delabroy-Allard, and Violette Leduc.

Jury member Annika Reich wrote, on HKW’s website, about Die jüngste Tochter:

Every word of this autobiographical debut novel testifies to the dauntlessness and vulnerable honesty of the narrator, who grows up as the daughter of Algerian immigrants in Clichy and attempts to honor the passionate simultaneity of coming out twice. The novel depicts the search for an identity in which a young woman can come closer to Islam and break free from sexual role ascriptions without having to defend one against the other. It is also a coming-of-age story that negotiates the tension between the Christian white majority society in Paris and the migrant minorities in the suburbs. All of this is told in a precisely poetic and incredibly contemporary way, drawing on traditions of Arabic literatures with great naturalness and range (Qur’an, poetry, rap). It’s as if a life in which identities can equally coexist had long existed. With Die jüngste Tochter (The Last One), Fatima Daas has charged on ahead of this life.

You can listen to an interview with Daas via France Culture (in French) and read more about the novel at Deutsche Welle.

An English translation of La petite dernière, by Lara Vergnaud, is forthcoming from Other Press in October 2021.