Bachir Mihoubi
Book: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus

When Global Atlanta asked me to recommend a book for their readers, I had no hesitation about the subject: I immediately thought of “The Stranger”, by Albert Camus.

“The Stranger”, the English title of the book, does not really capture the meaning of “L’Etranger”, the French title. Some critics prefer the term “outsider.” It is a story of a young man who lived in Algiers when Algeria was a French colony. The news of his mother’s death does not move him; during the funeral he shows no grief and feels very uncomfortable at the vigil. He has no interest in having a career and accepts to marry his girlfriend even though he feels indifferent about the relationship. Camus depicts what he feels is the irrational pursuit of meaning in our lives, which to him is an absurd quest.

“The Stranger” is considered by many to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century, since it holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the experiences of the individual. If one is interested in understanding existentialism, “The Stranger” is a good place to start.

The book is especially relevant today. The recent 50th anniversary of Camus’ death was marked by the endless debate between France and Algeria about political legacy. Camus believed Europeans and Algerians could and should coexist – a view for which he was condemned by both. Ultimately, Camus died without bridging the gap between France and Algeria.