A tour-de-force reimagining of Camus s The Stranger , from the point of view of the mute Arab victims. Read more...
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A tour-de-force reimagining of Camus sThe Stranger, from the point of view of the mute Arab victims. The New Yorker
He was the brother of the Arab killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus s classic novel. Seventy years after that event, Harun, who has lived since childhood in the shadow of his sibling s memory, refuses to let him remain anonymous: he gives his brother a story and a name Musa and describes the events that led to Musa s casual murder on a dazzlingly sunny beach.
In a bar in Oran, night after night, he ruminates on his solitude, on his broken heart, on his anger with men desperate for a god, and on his disarray when faced with a country that has so disappointed him. A stranger among his own people, he wants to be granted, finally, the right to die.
The Stranger is of course central to Daoud s story, in which he both endorses and criticizes one of the most famous novels in the world. A worthy complement to its great predecessor, The Meursault Investigation is not only a profound meditation on Arab identity and the disastrous effects of colonialism in Algeria, but also a stunning work of literature in its own right, told in a unique and affecting voice."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-04-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Camus’s The Stranger is vividly reimagined in Daoud’s intensely atmospheric novel (a finalist for the Prix Goncourt), which is told in a meandering monologue by the adult Harun, over the course of several visits to a bar in Oran, Algeria. Harun’s older brother, Musa, an Algerian Arab, was shot by the Frenchman Meursault on an Algiers beach in 1942; his body was never recovered. Musa’s missing corpse casts a long shadow over Harun, “condemned to a secondary role” by his widowed mother as she drags him on an interminable investigation into the death, taking the two from the Bab-el-Oued neighborhood of Algiers to the town of Hadjout, in northern Algeria. Determined to “organize the world” through language, the teenage Harun masters French in flashback, and he is 27 by the time a chance encounter offers him an opportunity to irrevocably alter his fate. As Harun meditates on guilt, alienation, and his failed affair with Meriem, a university student, his quarrel is revealed to be not just with his mother and Meursault, but with post-Independence Algeria and God himself. Ultimately, Harun identifies more with his brother’s killer than with his own zealous countrymen. The ghostlike “double” he sees in the bar where the tale is told may be Camus himself: “I’m his Arab. Or maybe he’s mine.” Daoud resists affirming which interpretation is “truer,” and readers will be captivated by the ambiguity. (June)