10 October 2015

The Meursault Investigation; Kamel Daoud

The Meursault InvestigationThe Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anyone reading Camus' L'etranger should read this as a follow-up. It's not just a re-envisioning of the story - it's more than Jane Eyre's Wide Sargasso Sea - it declares that the "other" in this case are the occupying French, not the native Arabs, and that Camus' version is patronizing at best. Confession: it's been decades since I read the Camus version, so my memory of the plot and the killing of the Arab (not named by Camus, given life by Daoud) is vague. This can definitely be read as a stand-alone, particularly because the critical incident is explained and then elaborated on by the younger brother of the dead man, looking for some form of justice for his brother and family. The narrative style, a man talking to another man in a bar what appears to be many years later, gives the events an odd immediacy. By that I mean the fact that the passion felt over the death and aftermath still resonates for our narrator, and thus for us, even though it didn't happen mere days or months ago. The Algerian independence movement also comes into the story, and for those who don't know about the horrors of that time it's a good way to learn a little bit of why Camus may have written his book the way he did.

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