In The New Yorker, Deborah Treisman interviews Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud about his novel Meursault, contre-enquête, published in English as The Meursault Investigation (2013) and its re-writing of Albert Camus’s “The Stranger” – although Daoud notes that the novel is intended not as an “answer” or “correction” but to “question the work, but to move on from there.”
In “Meursault,” Daoud imagines a brother, Haroun, for Camus’s nameless Arab, who recounts the grief that he and his mother suffered after the murder, as the world was entranced by the intellectual calisthenics of the criminal. Haroun’s quest for justice over the next twenty years is really a tale of the Algerian struggle for independence.
In the New Yorker interview, Daoud shares his reaction to his first reading of The Stranger:
Like everyone else, I read the story of the murder and I didn’t even think about the murdered Arab. I ignored him. Meursault’s genius is to make you forget the crime. Even if you were a victim of it!
The interview also discusses the threat against Daoud in the form of a fatwa from the Islamist Awakening Front – and whether there will be more novels.
I love to write. To find the right phrases, to dig beyond appearances. Lyricism is a hymn to language and to life. Metaphor is a gift from the gods. I am going to write, I write, and I have always written: it is my vocation and my passion. I will defend it. It is also the proof and the practice of my form of luck: my freedom.