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Algerian writer wins world French literature prize

The novel is inspired by l'Etranger, by Albert Camus
The novel is inspired by l'Etranger, by Albert Camus AFP

The Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud was named in Paris on Monday as the winner of a major world prize for French literature, for his novel “Mersault the counter-enquiry”.

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He will collect the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie (the Five Continents of the French-speaking World Prize) in Dakar on 28 November, during the Francophonie summit.

The Mersault of the title is the Mersault in the classic novel by Albert Camus, L’Etranger.

Daoud focuses on the brother of the “Arab”, who is killed in the Camus novel.

In Daoud’s book, the brother becomes a drunk who rants in a bar talking about his sibling and giving substance to the “Arab”, who in the Camus novel is merely a symbol with no character.

In a statement, Nobel prizewinner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, the president of the jury, explained their decision, saying they wished to reward “a novel which questions our blindness both throughout history and today and examines the issue of justice and otherness once the terror of colonialism has abated.”

Kamel Daoud was born in Mostaganem. He studied French literature and now writes for a daily paper in Oran, where his column is the most widely read in Algeria. Mersault, contre-enquête is his first novel.

The prize was set up in 2001 to give more international recognition to the wide variety of literature being written in the French language.
 

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