In his debut novel The Meursault Investigation (Other Press; OverDrive Sample), Algerian writer Kamel Daoud gives the murdered man a name. It is Musa. He had a family in Daoud’s retelling, a mother and father and critically, a brother named Harun.
It is Harun who tells Musa’s story, one that creatively echoes and challenges the story of The Stranger and expands it, and the history of Algeria, in complex and incisive ways.
Laila Lalami, author of The Moor’s Account, a finalist Pulitzer Prize in fiction for 2015, reviews The Meursault Investigation for the cover of the NYT Sunday Book Review, saying that literary retellings must be “so convincing and so satisfying that we no longer think of the original story as the truth, but rather come to question it … Daoud has done exactly this. Not only does he use an indigenous voice to retell the story of The Stranger, he offers a different account of the murder and makes Algeria more than just a setting for existential questions posed by a French novelist. For Daoud, Algeria is the existential question.”
Heller McAlpin, writing for NPR, says “What begins as a reproach to The Stranger for marginalizing ‘the second most important character in the book’ becomes a lament for Algeria’s long battle for independence, first from French colonists and subsequently from authoritarian Islamism.”
Additional attention has come from The LA Times “Jacket Copy”, The New Yorker, The Millions, and The NYT Magazine. It is also an Indie Next pick for June and won France’s Prix Goncourt award for “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year.”
For libraries that have ordered it, holds are heavy on light ordering.