‘The Meursault Investigation,’ by Kamel Daoud

14-Lalami-sub-master675Laila Lalami at The New York Times:

When I was 15, a shy and bookish sophomore at a high school in Morocco, my French class was assigned Albert Camus’s “The Stranger.” I remember being intrigued by the fact that the story was set in neighboring Algeria. I remember the novel’s indelible first line: “Mother died today.” I remember what an odd hero Meursault seemed to me, unabashed and remorseless, a man who shows no emotion at his mother’s funeral. And I still remember how distressing it was to come upon the crucial scene in which Meursault, walking on a beach under the midday sun, shoots a nameless Arab. Our class discussed Meursault, his mother, his fight with the priest, existentialism and the absurd. All the while, I had to quiet the voice inside me that kept asking, “But what about the Arab?”

The Algerian writer Kamel Daoud has answered this question in his rich and inventive new novel, “The Meursault Investigation.” Its premise is that the murder committed by Meursault in 1942 was a true crime, which catapulted him to worldwide fame after the publication of a book about it. Daoud gives the Arab a name — Musa — and, along with it, a family, a home and a story. But like his Quranic and biblical counterpart, Musa (Moses) isn’t able to speak for himself, so his brother, Harun (Aaron), will do it in his stead. It is Harun who narrates the events of that fateful day, his first line already a counterpoint to Meursault’s: “Mama’s still alive today.”

more here.