In So Close
, the internationally renowned writer Hélène Cixous recounts a return to her native Algeria after a more than thirty-year absence. Before she can decide to go, she must sift through large parts of her past in a land where she never felt at home and, from a young age, knew she must leave. Above all, she must confront the depths of her mother’s rejection of the country that had rejected her despite years of devotion to the poor women of Algiers. As she is struggling with this decision, she receives a message from Zohra Drif, with whom she has had no contact since their school days, which was just before Zohra joined the Algerian FLN and become a heroine in the uprising against French rule in her homeland. They meet in Paris for the first time in more than fifty years and soon afterward the narrator departs for Algiers.
The latter part of the narrative brings a rush of sensations, impressions, memories, and new encounters as the narrator revisits sites from her past in Algiers and especially in Oran, the city of her birth, the city of the family’s happiness before her father’s death when she was a young girl. The quest to find his grave again in the overgrown Jewish cemetery of Algiers leads to a startlingly moving scene that closes the voyage and the book.