Published by Other Press on June 2, 2015
Genres: General Fiction
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.
In big named cases, such as Casey Anthony and Scott Peterson, it is usually the accused and not the victim who is remembered. This is the premise of The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud. The novel gives a name to “The Arab” and who’s story is finally told by his brother debunking Meursault’s confession and celebrity status.
Impressions While Reading
I am so glad I reread The Stranger before The Meursault Investigation. There were in-depth mentions to it throughout the book. Therefore I had a clearer concept of the story when lets say, Harun mentions the news article Meursault read in prison. Another thing I found interesting was the continuous use of the time two o’clock (both am & pm) the time of the death of “The Arab”. Musa, I should say, as he does have a name, an identity that shaped so many.
But Daoud’s story is much more than a retelling of The Stranger. It is a compelling novel of a life lived in the shadow and the repercussions one action can have on so many. Despite the concept of the novel, I don’t think The Meursault Investigation will live in the shadow of The Stranger. Putting aside the fact that it breathes because of Camus, The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud is a novel that stands on its own two feet, unsupported, and is a fantastic read.