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The Meursault Investigation

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  6,592 ratings  ·  1,027 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 143 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Other Press (first published October 2013)
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Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The Meursaults in all of us
[T]he absurdity of my condition, which consisted in pushing a corpse to the top of a hill before it rolled down, endlessly.¹

The curtain opening lines of Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, ‘Mama’s still alive today,’ reveal a stage set for a pastiche of reproach and rapprochement towards Albert Camus’ The Stranger² which opens with ‘Maman died today.The Stranger, in which Camus’ anti-hero is tried for shooting a nameless Arab on an Algerian beach, is the soil from wh
Jim Fonseca
This book is a take-off from Camus’s classic novel The Stranger. The story is told by the brother of “the Arab” – we never knew his name from Camus - killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus’s novel.


The brother, now in his late 70’s, hangs out drinking wine in a bar night after night. He tells us his brother’s name was Musa and he tells us the things Camus never told us – How old was he? Was he married? Kids? What kind of job did he have? He describes the events that led to Musa’
Deborah Markus
The short review: Some good writing, but ultimately a letdown.

The details: I got all excited when I read Musa, the snippet of Meursault that was excerpted in The New Yorker. Not only was it very well written, but I'd just reread The Stranger and this is a retelling of that story from the point of view of the brother of the man who was shot.

I thought this book would be a lot like Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, which is a brilliant retelling of Jane Eyre from the madwoman's perspective. And the tw
"Mama's still alive today."
If you read this book, then I urge you to do so on the heels of reading, or re-reading, The Stranger. Otherwise, it would be like overhearing only the one side of a telephone conversation — you can then only guess at the meaning and significance of what you hear. The brilliance of this is how he simultaneously submerges and intertwines his story with Camus’, as if that fiction was a real-life documentary, and at the same time stands outside the narration, conversing wi
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a clever reworking of Camus's L'Étranger from the perspective of an Algerian Arab post independence. It is many years since I read that book but I remember enough about it to see what Daoud is doing.

The somewhat unreliable narrator tells his story to a stranger in a bar (a technique Camus himself used in The Fall). He claims to be the brother of Musa, the unnamed Arab that Meursault killed in the original book. Although the narrator and Meursault have polar opposite perspectives on Alger
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This novel feels like less of an expository read and more of a monologue. Told in a tight, almost claustrophobic, first person, it is the story of Camus' The Stranger from the viewpoint of the murdered man’s younger brother. Here, the victim is no longer an anonymous “Arab,” but has a name, Musa, (Moses) and a family who mourned his loss.
I would highly recommend that anyone planning to read The Meursault Investigation (re)read The Stranger first, since this is both a retelling and examination o
In the case of The Meursault Investigation, I found this sequel/response, of sorts, more satisfying and complete than the famed The Stranger. The premise of giving a name and identity to that unknown Arab killed on the beach is startlingly obvious and well done. The concepts of Arab identity and colonialism in Algeria are part of the fabric of this novel and become part of Musa's life and death, Musa being the now-named Arab, killed in Camus' book.

I must give tribute to The Stranger here, for w
I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Harun, the first person protagonist, is blunt in his anger with the world, with himself and his mother, with Albert Camus and the admirers of The Stranger. I decided to be just as blunt in my response. I am sure he will appreciate a little bit of honesty.

Robert, another reviewer of the book stated in a comment, ...all in all ... more successful as a political statement or literary riposte than a novel. That is how I experienced
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone who read Camus' L'Étranger and just thought it "grand" and "wonderful" needs to read this fucking book. Get ready for a wake up call that will give you some serious whiplash because we'll be kicking you out of bed and throwing all dem pillows away! Kamel Daoud didn't come to play. He came to rectify an injustice. He came to call you out.

In my review, for L'Étranger, which I read in April 2018, I wrote the following: "I won't get into it but judging from the positive reception of this bo
Jan Rice
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, them-and-us
As my childbearing years drew to a close, I had a recurrent dream. In it, I'd give birth to a tiny little baby only a few inches long that I could not remember to feed, or else I would forget it and remember later with a jolt of anxiety, or I would just lose it....

In The Meursault Investigation, the author builds on the Algerian conceit that The Stranger was not fiction at all, but rather a true story of a murder, a story written by the murderer, Meursault. Yes, as we have discussed before, peop
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
Sadly I found this rather disappointing. It felt kind of all over the place and sooo repetitive. Daoud's writing is very elegant, but I couldn't seem to get to the crux of the story. So in the end it just felt like a monologue of the main character's mourning(and whining) and unfortunately, it just never quite achieved lift-off in that sense.

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Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm. First thing to note is that to understand this book, you need to have Camus' L'Etranger in your recent memory. I started this book before rereading L'Etranger and although I liked it, I quickly realized that I needed to follow my advice above. So I did and fell in love with L'Etranger. Unfortunately, when I came back to Meursault, although I understood it better, I liked it less. I found the premise interesting (the unnamed "Arabe" in Camus' book, is given a name and a story here), I found ...more
Ravi Gangwani
Love is a heavenly beast that scares hell out of me. I watch it devour people, two by two; it fascinates people with the lure of eternity, shuts them up in a sort of cocoon, lifts them up to heaven, and drops their carcasses back to earth like peels.

Why? Why? Why ?
Why this thing has been written? Why he used Albert Camus' brilliant novel 'The Stranger' as a crutch.
I didn't like it in fact it was one of the most irritating books I ever read. Musa, the Arab (who was killed in 'The Stranger') die
The Meursault Investigation is an interesting response to Camus' The Stranger. It begins with the words "Maman is still alive today," in contrast to Camus' famous opening, "Maman died today." Meursault interrogates the colonial fantasy in which the French occupier possesses more of an identity than the man he murders. Harun, the narrator, is the brother of the murdered man, Musa. His life has been lived in the shadow of his brother's death, his mother has lived in the memory of her older son's l ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing

It’s not an easy feat to take a classic novel – Albert Camus’s The Outsider, the ultimate tale of alienation – and turn it on its ear, telling it from the perspective of the brother of the nameless Arab. But Kamel Daoud does so masterfully, bellying the fact that this is his debut novel. And even though I haven’t read The Outsider since college days, the images came flooding back to me, from the very first sentence (“Mama’s still alive today”, as opposed to The Outsider’s “Mama died today.”)

Pride & Prejudice from the point of view of the servants? Blah. I'd rather read non-fiction on the subject, and anyway Austen and C19th history aren't my favourites. Classical mythology retellings narrated by the wives? Been sick of the very idea since at least 2000. And they all seem to be saying the same sodding thing. As with certain books on walking, imagining my own version during the course of an activity - even if I couldn't write it down as well as Robert Macfarlane - was at times more i ...more
Deborah Markus
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last week, I read Camus' The Stranger with my son. We also read about it, and learned a bit about Camus, his background, and his philosophy. (I learned some, anyway. I'm hoping my son did, too.)

This week, I started reading a short story in the New Yorker, realized I didn't recognize the author's name, and flipped back to take a look at the about-the-contributors page.

"Kamel Daoud is an Algerian journalist."

Oh. Cool. And what a coincidence that I just read a novel set in Algeria.

"His first novel,
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
“Actually, however, life begins less by reaching upward, than by turning upon itself. But what a marvelously insidious, subtle image of life a coiling vital principle would be! And how many dreams the leftward oriented shell, or one that did not conform to the rotation of its species, would inspire!”
― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Reading Kamel Daoud's retelling, The Meursault Investigation, translated from the French, of Harun's memory of his brother's death, by el-roumi, the foreign
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Mama’s still alive today, but what’s the point?"

Ever had second thoughts about picking a book reading few initial chapters and let it overwhelm, astound and swallow you completely in the end? Well, my first time.

I think this is a powerful literature considered an anti thesis, response or a companion to Albert Camus' The Stranger. Written in the narration style heavily resembling 'The Fall', the narrator Harun, the brother of Musa, the arab who was murdered by Meursault, goes on rambling and com
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Night after night, a drunk old man in an Oran cafe rambles on to a visitor about his life haunted by the ghost of his murdered brother. Harun's brother was shot on the beach by a roumi, a Frenchman, in 1942 when Harun was seven years old. His brother's body was never found.

Twenty years after his brother's death, Harun and his mother learned that his brother's death became the subject of a world-famous novel, a novel in which the murderer, Meursault, and his disaffected manner took center stage
Roger Brunyate
No Longer an Anonymous Arab

This is a totally impossible book to read without knowing L'étranger by Albert Camus, and knowing it well. Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud's first novel (and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt) is about the anonymous Arab murdered half-way through Camus' novel by his protagonist, Meursault. As Daoud remarks, the phrase "the Arab" appears twenty-five times in the novel, but the victim's given name not once; he is merely a prop in the European's story. Daoud's s
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Clémentine
One of the key components to philosophy is the ability to argue your point, this is done in many different ways and Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger does exactly that. Kamel Daoud took the same approach for his counterargument, with his novel The Meursault Investigation. This novel seemed to have taken the world by storm, winning the Goncourt du Premier Roman, the Prix des Cinq Continents, the Prix François Mauriac and shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt. It follows Harum seventy years after his b ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, africa
The murderer got famous, and his story's too well written for me to get any ideas about imitating him. He wrote in his own language. Therefore I'm going to do what was done in this country after Independence: I'm going to take the stones from the old houses the colonists left behind, remove them one by one, and build my own house, my own language.

The Meursault Investigation is a modern response to Albert Camus' classic of Absurdism, The Stranger. In the original, a French Algerian (like Camu
Peter Landau
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
THE MEURASAULT INVESTIGATION by Kamel Daoud reminded me of the works of Albert Camus, not because the novel is a response to the murder of the nameless Arab in Camus’ THE STRANGER, or even that the brother of the murdered sibling narrates the book in the monologue structure taken from a later Camus novel, THE FALL, but in its sensual and humanistic prose, which is reminiscent of Camus’ writings about his native Algiers. But the book is about Camus’ first and most famous novel, taking the murder ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: france, fiction
After struggling to the half way mark I looked for solace in the goodreads reviews and I found it! I think I'll make it to the end.

The key, I learned, is not to worry too much about the narrative structure or to put it more simply: truth. Now that I think about it, why would I even try to look for truth in a fictional meta-narrative on another piece of fiction? I think it's partly because the blurbs falsely sell this as "The Stranger" from the point of view of the victim. And because "The Stran
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Here is where everything happened
Ce que je voudrais raconter
Reste en pays étranger

Here is where everything happened
Sur mon dos marqué d'une croix
Pose ta main, souviens-toi

Here is where everything happened
À force-force de lutter
Je ne suis que géométries"

Christine and the Queens. "Here"


The book has been amply reviewed. Just a few of my thoughts. This is a book well worth reading but only after having read "L'étranger". But don't confuse this as a sequel. It's a contre-enquête.

Jenny (Reading Envy)
In the now classic novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, an unnamed "Arab" is killed and left for dead on the beach in Algiers. In The Meursault Investigation, Daoud sets out to explore that man's life through the eyes of his surviving brother.

In general this book disappointed me, I think because it reads like a response to a letter. What would have best proven an importance of the life of "the Arab" would have been a life that was rich and existed outside "the Stranger." And in the end, the chara
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read "The Stranger" by Camus a long time ago - and as part of a college French class. The book struck me as strange when I read it, both from reading through the French and from processing the existentialism. So the prospect of reading about the story from the perspective of the brother of the murdered Arab intrigued me, especially the chance to see the story as a colonial tale. That the Arab is never mentioned by name and is invisible in the story was strange when I first read it and remains ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I started out liking this book. But by page 49, I was getting tired of the repetitious manner of the narrator's storytelling. I understood the author's purpose using this style, yet I was impatient and wanted the meat of the story- not the internal turmoil of a young man. Think the author was using this man's confusion as a metaphor for the attitude of some Algerians concerning their domination by the French before 1962. So I skipped to the end, then back some pages to read about the murder and ...more
Paul Fulcher
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
"They mention only one dead man, they feel no compunction about doing that, even though there were two of them, two dead men. Yes, two. Why does the other one get left out? Well, the original guy was such a good story teller, he managed to make people forget his crime, whereas the other one was a poor illiterate God created apparently for the sole purpose of taking a bullet and returning to dust - an anonymous person who didn't even have the time to be given a name"

Kamel Daoud's "Mersault, contr
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Né en 1970 à Mostaganem, Kamel Daoud est journaliste au Quotidien d’Oran où il tient une chronique à succès « Raïna raïkoum ». Il est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages dont le recueil de nouvelles La Préface du nègre ( barzakh, 2008 ) récompensé par le Prix Mohammed Dib et traduit en allemand ainsi qu’en italien.


The Algerian writer and journalist, Kamel Daoud is the winner o

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  Ellen Oh is an award-winning author of middle grade and young adult novels such as Spirit Hunters, The Dragon Egg Princess, and A Thousand...
36 likes · 4 comments
“As a matter of fact, that's the reason why I've learned to speak this language, and to write it too: so I can speak in the place of a dead man, so I can finish his sentences for him. The murderer got famous, and his story's too well written for me to get any ideas about imitating him. He wrote in his own language. Therefore I'm going to do what was done in this country after Independence: I'm going to take the stones from the old houses the colonists left behind, remove them one by one, and build my own house, my own language. The murderer's words and expressions are my unclaimed goods. Besides, the country's littered with words that don't belong to anyone anymore.” 9 likes
“You drink a language, you speak a language, and one day it owns you;” 9 likes
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