Kamel Daoud

De Algerijnse schrijver en journalist Kamel Daoud werd geboren op 17 juni 1970 in Mostaganem, Algerije. Daoud redigeert de Franstalige krant Le Quotidien d’Oran, waarin hij in het Frans.een populaire rubriek met scherp commentaar op het nieuws schrijft onder de titel “Raina Raikoum” (“mijn mening, uw mening”) Daoud’s debuutroman “Meursault, contre-enquêt” (In het Nederlands verschenen onder de titel Moussa of de dood van een Arabier”) won de Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, de prix François Mauriac, en de Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie. Het stond ook op de shortlist voor de Prix Renaudot.

Uit: The Meursault Investigation (Vertaald door John Cullen)

usa was my older brother. His head seemed to strike the clouds. He was quite tall, yes, and his body was thin and knotty from hunger and the strength that comes from anger. He had an angular face, big hands that protected me, and hard eyes, because our ancestors had lost their land. But when I think about it I believe that he already loved us then the way the dead do, with no useless words and a look in his eyes that came from the hereafter. I have only a few pictures of him in my head, but I want to describe them to you carefully. For example, the day he came home early from the neighborhood market, or maybe from the port, where he worked as a handyman and a porter, toting, dragging, lifting, sweating. Anyway, that day he came upon me while I was playing with an old tire, and he put me on his shoulders and told me to hold on to his ears, as if his head were a steering wheel. I remember the joy I felt as he rolled the tire along and made a sound like a motor. His smell comes back to me, too, a persistent mingling of rotten vegetables, sweat, and breath. Another picture in my memory is from the day of Eid one year. Musa had given me a hiding the day before for some stupid thing I’d done, and now we were both embarrassed. It was a day of forgiveness and he was supposed to kiss me, but I didn’t want him to lose face and lower himself by apologizing to me, not even in God’s name. I also remember his gift for immobility, the way he could stand stock still on the threshold of our house, facing the neighbors’ wall, holding a cigarette and the cup of black coffee our mother brought him.
Our father had disappeared long ago and existed now in fragments in the rumors we heard from people who claimed to have run into him in France. Only Musa could hear his voice. He’d give Musa commands in his dreams, and Musa would relay them to us. My brother had seen our father just once since he left, and from such a distance that he wasn’t even sure it was him. As a child, I learned how to distinguish the days with rumors from the days without.When Musa heard people talking about my father, he’d come home all feverish gestures and burning eyes, and then he and Mama would have long, whispered conversations that ended in heated arguments. I was excluded from those, but I got the gist: for some obscure reason, my brother held a grudge against Mama, and she defended herself in a way that was even more obscure. Those were unsettling days and nights, filled with anger, and I lived in fear at the idea that Musa might leave us, too. But he’d always return at dawn, drunk, oddly proud of his rebellion, seemingly endowed with renewed vigor. Then he’d sober up and fade away. All he wanted to do was sleep, and in this way my mother would get him under her control again.“

Kamel Daoud (Mostaganem, 17 juni 1970)