On the heels of major recent profiles in the New York Times, The Nation, The New Yorker, and others, Other Press is rushing publication of the English translation of Kamel Daoud’s novel The Meursault Investigation. Originally scheduled to publish in November, the book will now be released on June 2. The novel is an Algerian response to Camus’s The Stranger that has taken the international literary world by storm. A finalist for the 2014 Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, The Meursault Investigation is already licensed for publication in twenty countries.
The New Yorker has called the novel “a tour-de-force,” and Le Monde des Livres wrote that “In the future, The Stranger and The Meursault Investigation will be read side by side.”
Other Press publisher Judith Gurewich says, “With all of the incredible attention The Meursault Investigation has already received, I felt a great urgency to get the book into readers’ hands as soon as possible. We could not wait for November. Our production team is working day and night to speed us along to our June 2 publication date.”
The book has garnered favorable comparisons to its predecessor, but the relationship between the two is a nuanced and somewhat uneasy one. The Nation described the distinct reactions the book received: “Readers in France thought that Daoud was settling scores with Camus, whereas Algerians worried that he had gone over to the other side.” Elisabeth Zerofsky wrote for New Yorker.com that “Daoud has said that his novel is an homage to The Stranger, but it reads more like a rebuke.”
In the midst of the novel’s meteoric rise to international commendation, a fatwa was declared against Daoud by a Salafist imam from Algeria, which elicited an outcry among the world literary community. Gurewich says, “Although he was raised a Muslim, Daoud hints in this provocative novel that religious fundamentalism may well have replaced the authoritarian colonial rule that preceded it.”
“This novel is a masterpiece,” Gurewich continues. “The nameless Arab on the beach in Camus’s novel hits so close to home that it may be felt even more acutely when it is seen at a comfortable distance, under the blinding sun of the Algerian seashore. It has deep resonance, in my view, with what happened in Ferguson and Staten Island recently.”
A first-serial excerpt from The Meursault Investigation will run in the April 6, 2015 issue of The New Yorker, and a major profile is planned in The New York Times Magazine.
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