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Historian Tamara Chalabi investigates Albert Camus


“I first read The Meursault Investigation by Algerian writer Kamel Daoud in 2014, and it has stayed with me. Daoud takes the nameless Algerian man pointlessly shot dead at the end of Camus’s 1942 novel, The Outsider [aka L’Étranger], gives the dead man a name and a family, and imagines what happened to them after he died. Through humanizing the dead Arab, he humanizes the Algerians during French rule.“It’s narrated by the dead man’s brother—an angry drunk in a bar. At first he doesn’t know where his brother disappeared to, he is sexually frustrated and his mother is the bane of his life. But he can’t abandon her because she has already lost a husband and a son—there’s so much love in that. They only find out his brother has died much later, and that the man who killed him, Meursault, was let off. “It’s an angry book, and the agile language makes it addictive reading. And while you might expect the novel to bash the First World, that would have been too easy. Daoud doesn’t let anyone off the hook. And yet, it’s fundamentally a human story that could have happened anywhere in the world. That interplay between the specific and the general is compelling.” —AS TOLD TO AMY FLEMING

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MACRON STRONGER THAN LE PEN, BUT FRANCE’S WORRIES FAR FROM OVE It was the day the world didn’t end, the day that the tide of populism that gave the world Brexit and Donald Trump turned, the moment when French voters chose pragmatism over protest. That, at least, was the judgment of Europe’s establishment at the victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 7th French presidential election. It’s not hard to see why the defeat of the Euroskeptic, anti-immigration Marine Le Pen was so vital to the West’s future. A victory for Le Pen’s far-right National Front party would likely have heralded the disintegration of the European Union and the end of the continent’s grand experiment with open borders. However, with Macron's victory, establishment Europe shouldn’t feel too relieved about right-winger Marine Le Pen’s defeat in France.