Lost in reading: The predicament of postcolonial writing in Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation
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Kamel Daoud’s novel The Meursault Investigation (first published in Algeria in 2013 as Meursault, contre-enquête) has sparked controversy. In 2014 it won awards in France and was nominated for the Prix Goncourt, and won the 2015 Goncourt First Novel Prize. At the same time, some radical Islamists accused Daoud of apostasy and called for his execution; others described him as having “sold out” to France. This article seeks to problematize the concept of “self-imposed ḥisba” and to dispute accusations made concerning The Meursault Investigation. It proposes a postcolonial reading that contests the perception of Daoud as a self-hating Arab complicit with the French, and draws on Homi Bhabha’s concepts of ambivalence and mimicry to trace the emergence of cultural forms that take debates about colonial/postcolonial representation to a new level. It argues that any reading of Daoud’s novel that fails to pay attention to the complex workings of its language is incomplete.