Albertine Sarrazin

Albertine Sarrazin

Albertine Sarrazin (1937-1967) was a French-Algerian writer. At an early age she abandoned her studies and turned to a life of crime and prostitution. She wrote her first two novels in prison and died at twenty-nine.

Astragal

Fiction by Albertine Sarrazin

With a contribution by Patti Smith

As if the reader were riding shotgun, this intensely vivid novel captures a life on the lam. “L’astragale” is the French word for the ankle bone Albertine Sarrazin’s heroine Anne breaks as she leaps from her jail cell to freedom. As she drags herself down the road, away from the prison walls, she is rescued by Julien, himself a small-time criminal, who keeps her hidden. They fall in love. Fear of capture, memories of her prison cell, claustrophobia in her hideaways: every detail is fiercely felt.…
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It becomes impossible to read Astragal or know its heroine outside of the context of Sarrazin’s own tragic story. Through Anne, Sarrazin emerges as a person fragile and vulnerable, yet full of a fierce energy, leaving some of the substance of herself behind in the form of her writing.
Full Stop
With Astragal’s English reissue and Patti Smith’s new introduction, there is the hope, perhaps slight, that Sarrazin will find a new audience and, with it, a new kind of freedom.
The Brooklyn Rail
Sarrazin’s career may have been tragically curtailed, but her legacy is a novel that grateful readers are discovering now, almost 50 years after her death.
PopMatters
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