Recommended reading on the theme of alternative narratives to popular Western literature and a counter novel of Albert Camus’ The Stranger from an Algerian perspective:
Mama’s still alive today. She doesn’t say anything now, but there are many tales she could tell. Unlike me: I’ve rehashed this story in my head so often, I almost can’t remember it anymore. I mean, it goes back more than half a century. It happened, and everyone talked about it. People still do, but 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 storyteller, 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. I’ll tell you this up front: The other dead man, the murder victim, was my brother. There’s nothing left of him. There’s only me, left to speak in his place, sitting in this bar, waiting for condolences no one’s ever going to offer. Laugh if you want, but this is more or less my mission: I peddle off stage silence, trying to sell my story while the theater empties out. 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. You see them on the façades of old stores, in yellowing books, on people’s faces, or transformed by the strange creole decolonization produces.
– The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud published in French in 2013, translated to English by John Cullen in 2015.
Image: North African prickly pear fruit vendor. Marrakech Medina, Morocco.