The Meursault Investigation

  • by Kamel Daoud, John Cullen - translator
  • Narrated by Fajer Al-Kaisi
  • 4 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

He was the brother of "the Arab" killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus' 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.


What the Critics Say

"A tour-de-force reimagining of Camus’s The Stranger, from the point of view of the mute Arab victims." (The New Yorker)
"Fajer Al-Kaisi's performance of this fascinating and disturbing book is crisp and beautifully articulated.... This audio production makes a striking novel of ideas a rich and human experience." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Kamel Daoud resurrects Camus’s main character from the book, “The Stranger”, by recounting the imagined life of an Algerian killed by Merusault. Nothing is absolutely known about Merusault’s victim. Camus suggests Merusault believes the victim is one of two people who assaulted himself and a friend on an Algerian beach. Merusault is sentenced and executed for murder but less for being guilty than of not caring for his dying mother, not believing in God, and living life without purpose.

Harun, Daoud's main character, and Merusault are the same; i.e. both are nihilists (neither believing there is meaning in life); both have little regard for their mothers, both live lives that demand nothing, give nothing, and mean nothing. Both are immoral. Neither believes in God or religion. Life is trivialized in both Daoud’s and Camus’s stories; i.e. Daoud represents an Arab perspective, and Camus a French perspective; similar outlooks, different ethnic backgrounds, but the same point of view. The devastating conclusion infers Algeria is as doomed by independence as by colonization.
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excellent retelling / re-envisioning

Any additional comments?

The Stranger is the classic of existential lit. Daoud's novel is the parallel, antithetical, yet reduplicated story of the unnamed 'Arab' whom the anti-hero of Camus' novel kills. But, be warned - If you haven't read The Stranger recently and haven't had to read it critically, then The Meursault Investigation will fall short. The brilliance of this novel is the layering that creates at first a contrast between Camus' Meursault and Daoud's narrator Harun, who tells the story of his dead brother Musa - 'the Arab' shot in Camus's novel -- but ultimately shows they are two sides of a single coin.

Absence of a god versus the killing of god/religion; the death of an unnamed local by a privileged colonial vs the death of a colonial after the end of the war for independence; the failure of that war and independence to live up to the expectations of those who wanted better and how the victors destroyed their own world in that reach for freedom; and trials not for killing someone but for their failures of character -- these are some of the complex comparisons and contrasts Daoud explores as his narrator tells his tale in bar over a series of nights.

We are eavesdroppers on an intimate conversation 70 years after the death of Musa. We only hear one side, but the interviewer carries his copy of The Stranger (here presented as a factual account written by Meursault) and we can glean what it is he asks periodically. Harun is witty, and contemplative, but angry and obsessed, his entire life revolved around the incident of his brother's death and the book written about it. He is a hard man, and ultimately unsympathetic. There were moments where I wondered if his brother had been in fact the 'Arab' at all - that instead he became the substitute for the brother that disappeared and gave him a target for his righteous indignation at the colonists and the religious.

This is the type of novel that provokes thought, and argument, but leaves no solution, ties up no threads, fills in no blanks. It is the type of novel that inspires critical papers and if I were still teaching high schoolers, I'd pair these two novels because, in the end, they enhance each other while simultaneously making us question both.

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- Ubookquitous

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-02-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios