Claire Messud’s most recent novel is The Woman Upstairs. (August 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

The Brother of the ‘Stranger’

The Meursault Investigation

by Kamel Daoud, translated from the French by John Cullen
Kamel Daoud’s novel The Meursault Investigation may have attracted more international attention than any other debut in recent years. The Algerian writer’s book, first published in French in Algeria in 2013, then in France in 2014 (where it won the Goncourt First Novel Prize and was runner-up for the Prix …

Discovery, Bewilderment, Joy

Per Petterson on his farm in Norway, 2000

Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes

by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

I Refuse

by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
Readers of the Norwegian writer Per Petterson will already know him to be a master of strenuously achieved economy. Like a painter working with a restricted palette, he evokes a considerable, urgent range of emotion and experience from his intimately known surroundings: just as Alice Munro knows her territory of …

A New ‘L’Étranger’

The Outsider

by Albert Camus, translated from the French by Sandra Smith
One of the most widely read French novels of the twentieth century, Albert Camus’s L’Étranger, carries, for American readers, enormous significance in our cultural understanding of midcentury French identity. It is considered—to what would have been Camus’s irritation—the exemplary existentialist novel. Yet most readers on this continent (and indeed, most of Camus’s readers worldwide) approach him not directly, but in translation.

Camus & Algeria: The Moral Question

Albert Camus and his publisher, Michel Gallimard, Greece, 1958

Algerian Chronicles

by Albert Camus, edited and with an introduction by Alice Kaplan, and translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
One Christmas when I was in my early twenties, my mother, my sister, and I returned home from midnight services to find my deeply private and resolutely lapsed father watching John Paul II’s mass at St. Peter’s on television, his face wet with tears. Distressed to see him thus, we asked why he was crying. “Because when I last heard the mass in Latin,” he replied, “I thought I had a religion, and I thought I had a country.” My father, like Albert Camus, was a pied-noir, a French Algerian.

Germany: Surviving the Whispers

Painting by Gustav Klimt, 1912; from Gustav Klimt: The Complete Paintings, which collects his portraits, landscapes, drawings, and letters, along with newly commissioned photographs of his mosaics for the Palais Stoclet in Brussels. It is edited by Tobias G. Natter and has just been published by Taschen.

The Life of Objects

by Susanna Moore
In a brief acknowledgment at the end of The Life of Objects, Susanna Moore explains that the impulse to write her novel arose during her stay at the American Academy in Berlin in 2006. In a radio interview at the time of publication, she further explained that her protagonist’s Irish …

‘Thank God You’ll Never Be Beautiful’

Astray

by Emma Donoghue
In the tsunami of family relics that overwhelmed me upon the sale of my parents’ house in Ontario last year were those belonging to my grandmother’s cousin Esther, who died in the year before my birth and was known to us chiefly as the provenance of our family’s …

The Elephant in the Room

The Artist of Disappearance

by Anita Desai
In these relentlessly noisy times, to deem a writer “quiet” seems tantamount to an insult. Surely “quiet” is synonymous with “dull”? “Discreet” is no better, implying, as it does, prudery of some sort. But any of us must recall the moment when we realized that the smartest girl …

NYR DAILY

Revealing the Real Iran

When I landed at boarding school in Boston in the fall of 1980—from a public school in Toronto, another world—I assumed the Iranian girls knew the ropes better than I did. Posh New England culture was utterly alien to me; but how much more so must it have been to my fellow boarders lately of Tehran? Aware of the recent revolution—even at fourteen, one couldn’t not be—I nevertheless was unable to relate the girl brushing her teeth beside me in the dorm bathroom to mass demonstrations or the then ongoing hostage crisis half a world away. I never asked the Iranians a single question about their histories: it was tacitly accepted that it was too delicate a subject and, by force of silence, too remote from our placid world of emerald lawns and peeling white columns. What, I now wonder, must the Iranian girls have thought?