Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Kamel Daoud's "Musa" (translated from the French by John Cullen) was originally published in the April 6, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.
April 6, 2015

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By |2015-03-30T09:46:57-04:00March 30th, 2015|Categories: Kamel Daoud, New Yorker Fiction|Tags: |10 Comments


  1. Adrienne March 30, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood when I read this story. While I can appreciate the beautiful and lyrical language that evoked such deep and honest emotion, I am not thrilled with the story.

    It is sad. It is filled with grief and despair and yes, ultimately hope, but it was long and I had to wade through the sadness to get to that tiny glimmer at the end.

    It is linear but it also zig-zags. It is about the relationship between the mother and the narrator, but as an effect of the relationship both had with the title character.

    It was confession and stream of consciousness and explanation.

    It dragged me down. Ugh. I need to read something light and happy now!

  2. len April 2, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Does anyone know if Junot Diaz has published a short story recently. Has he published a short story in the past two years? I miss his stories in the New Yorker.

  3. Adrienne April 2, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    @len – I don’t know if he has, BUT I did find this youtube video awhile back that introduced him to me-

    I found his thoughts interesting enough that I cannot stop processing them – in this interview he talks about the role of the heroine in Dystopian young adult literature… Hmmmmm…. It’s all I can talk about!

  4. Dan April 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    My thoughts on this are confused; my voyage from enjoying the story to feeling frustrated with it is narrated below — I added this introductory line afterward.

    I quite liked this one — rather more than I do the typical New Yorker fare. I confess (embarrassedly) that I have not read L’Etranger, but I know enough about it that I recognize Musa as a retelling from the other side. And now I see that Daoud published an entire novel in 2013, from which this must be an excerpt? Obligatory Wikipedia quotation: “The Arab was given an identity and a whole novel by the Algerian journalist and novelist Kamel Daoud in his 2013 novel Meursault, Counter-inquiry.” And I see the notation on the New Yorker web page that said novel will soon be appearing in English.

    So this now turns out to be yet another New Yorker chapter or distillation of a novel. Why, New Yorker, why? As a frequent reader of works in translation, I am always happy to be introduced to new non-English language artists, but I a so tired of the chapter as story. The short story has a vital, important role in letters and so often in the development of new writers. And the New Yorker is one of the last remaining mainstream outlets for exposure to short stories. Why must Treisman deny us the new voices appearing in that form?

  5. Michael Flaherty April 11, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I have to say that I had a difficult time connecting with this one. I’ve read Camus’s novel multiple times, so I identified the idea behind it almost immediately, and while I guess it’s clever, I think the famous-story-sequel is a bit over done (which is to say I don’t think it should be done often at all). I certainly didn’t feel this added much to Camus’s work or my understanding of it, be it literary or political, nor did I find the story to be powerful on its own. Perhaps I would feel differently if I read Daoud’s full novel.

  6. Ken April 18, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Despite being an excerpt, this really worked as a whole and seemed to stand on its own just fine. I liked the illusiveness–we don’t feel satisfied, but I think it’s deliberate. The narrator will never know the truth, the mother will tell endless stories to spin her own truths, and ultimately life may not be satisfying. Stories provide some coherence, but even they are hardly of value to the dead.

  7. Sean H April 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Rather pretentious and yeah, this trick of the marginalized retaking the canonical work (be it Wide Sargasso Sea or Derek Walcott or whathaveyou) or spinning out some other writer’s creation and lifting a minor character and making him/her the protagonist and going, OMG, I have such a glistening new perspective on things; this is now decades old now and rather tired. Even when it’s done well, Gardner’s Grendel maybe, it’s not truly great literature or majestic art, it’s usually just magniloquence and bombast and “look at me” lionization of The Other, mostly motivated by knee-jerk reactionary leftism. That said, this piece was consistent, established tone well, was moderately interesting and closed with a well-crafted and memorable literary image. But be honest, does it make you want to read this Daoud guy’s book or does it make you want to reread Camus’ masterworks?

  8. Adrienne April 21, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Doesn’t make me want to read anything, per se, but given the choice – Camus….

  9. lotusgreen April 23, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    It seems to me that the main prerequisite for a short story is that it contain itself. No additional information is required, or even suggested, for an in-depth read. The physiological and mental gymnastics involved in removing one’s glasses and all one’s clothes and forgetting all personal memory and becoming a part of a completely other reality is work enough. And if the author has done her job sufficiently, that work is invisible.

    Sure I read The Stranger. I was in advanced placement English. In high school. FIFTY years ago!!! If you think I can remember it enough to catch the drift, perhaps you also know what I had for breakfast, cause I sure don’t.

    However, though I was waiting till they revealed what “the book” was that they were talking about, and thought the writing evocative and visceral, I again go after Triesman for her narrow choice of subject, character, and ambiance.

    Apollo, Musa, The Start of the Affair…. I feel that as a travel guide, she is too narrow. See how much I liked visiting Japan?! And these young dark protagonists, why are they all boys? Are there too few young dark girls? How about old dark girls? Or old white ones? Do we old no longer have stories?

  10. Adrienne April 23, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Wow! What powerful points! Especially about the “old” in stories – so few good ones anymore…. guess it’s time to start writing!

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