The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud

The_Meursault_InvestigationI am always fond of reading books that involve trials and laws in them. It is always interesting to look at the opinion of both the sides, both the point of view from the antagonist and the protagonist. In a law suit, everything said is placed against the person’s defense which will affect the result in the end. Most of the time, I find myself siding with all the character’s sides not because of the ‘good guy and bad guy logic’, but because of their arguments itself. To be honest, people who expect to win the entire world at one side of the fence annoy me so much. I know many of those ‘kinds’ of people in real life and trust me–They are tiring to deal with. Its not worth the trouble, so its way better to just stay away from them.

Remember the story The Stranger by Albert Camus? It’s true. I have to admit, I never really looked into the sides of this story. All my attention was fixed towards the thoughts and the feelings of the main character. It was fixed on to what kind of psychological thing must had triggered Mersault to kill the Arab. Was it the sun? Or another kind of hidden conscious thing? (Yes, I’m into reading books about the brain at the moment.) Whatever it was, I never gave the ide that the Arab killed at a second thought.

But I was wrong. It is nothing like that at all from The Meursault Investigation. As soon as a character dies, nobody gives a second thought about them, epecially if the character just happens to be a bystander passing by. At a massacre at every novel, would you care about the family of the fallen? Or would you be pursuing at the actions of the real main character? Give me the definition of a hero, and you would find it’s the same definition of the villain. In almost every book I’ve read, everybody except the main characters die. It has pretty much became something expected. But whoever knew that this certain Arab that Mersault killed had a brother! And of course, we’re going to be finding ourselves in a cafe, hearing a long tale his brother told us. There’s always a different perspective.

His brother never really knew the proper details of the incident which unfolded on the beach that day. All he knew was that his big brother–Musa–walked off with the promise to come home earlier. Of course, the promise was broken. (Promises were meant to be broken. It’s a cliché that happens every time.) Musa never really came back home, leaving his younger brother and his mother to find it out the hard way. Haroun (Musa’s younger brother) talked about his mother who was very fond of Musa, leaving almost no space for him. With Musa’s death, his mother grew colder and built a wall around him. Soon, she decided to leave the town Haroun grew up in.

Haroun narrated his anger at Mersault. Remember the book itself? Haroun had a copy of the ‘Stranger’, this time written by Mersault himself. He didn’t like it, claiming that most of the information there was wrong, with Mersault doing zero but causing people to feel nothing but sorry for himself. Haroun mentioned over and over again, correcting facts that Mersault had just simply assumed. They had NO sister at all. Musa was just defending the woman Raymond messed around with because they were of the same race. From time to time, Haroun would mention again that Mersault never even bothered to find out Musa’s name.

I actually feel sorry for Haroun. He went through so much after Musa’s death. He had to take care of his psychologically scared Mother, while still grieving for his brother. It’s apparent that the two were very close siblings. Haroun greatly respected Musa and had his share of sadness when Musa disappeared and was assumed to be dead. He wanted to know what really happened (times before he read the book Mersault made) and had frequent trips to the beach. Where he would try to picture and imagine Musa’s death.

…the devil’s hour, two o’clock on a summer afternoon–the siesta hour.  -Haroun about Musa’s time of death.

This book isn’t a kind of ‘spin-off’ from the original stories. It’s a kind of different book, only connected in several ways to the main book. It’s a story about a brother, filled with hate and grieving over his brother’s death. The writer, Kamel Daoud is an Algerian writer and journalist. He was born in Mostaganem, Algeria. He was chased down and marked as a target to kill a few years after this book was published, somewhat like Salman Rushdie’s experience. I recommend this book to everyone who had read ‘The Stranger’ by Alert Camus.


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