The word “Arab” appears [in the book narrated by the character of Mersault] twenty-five times, but not a single name, not once.
He was Musa to us, his family, his neighbors, but it was enough for him to venture a few meters into the French part of the city, a single glance from one of them was enough, to make him lose everything, starting with his name....
Everything revolved around Musa, and Musa revolved around our father, whom I never knew and who left me nothing but our family name. Do you know what we were called in those days? Uled el-assas, the sons of the guardian. Of the watchman, to be more precise.
The sun was overwhelming, like a heavenly accusation. It shattered into needles on the sand and on the sea but never flagged.
It was a heavy old revolver that looked like a metal dog with one nostril and gave off a strange odor. I remember its weight that night, not pulling me down to earth but toward some obscure target.
A stranger possesses nothing—and I was one. I’ve never held anything in my hands very long, I start to feel revulsion for it, I have the sensation of excessive weight.
I think I’d just like justice to be done. That may seem ridiculous at my age...But I swear it’s true. I don’t mean the justice of the courts, I mean the justice that comes when the scales are balanced.
If only your hero had been content with bragging, without going so far as to write a book! There were thousands like him back then, but it was his talent that made his crime perfect.
Judging from your enthusiasm, the book’s success is still undiminished, but I repeat, I think it’s an awful swindle.
Read what your hero wrote about his stay in a prison cell. I often reread that passage myself. It’s the most interesting part of his whole hodgepodge of sun and salt. When your hero’s in his cell, that’s when he’s best at asking the big questions.
Do you understand why I laughed the first time I read your hero’s book? There I was, expecting to find my brother’s last words between those covers, the description of his breathing, his features, his face, his answers to his murderer....