It's been 75 years since Albert Camus published L’Étranger. It continues to be the most translated book from French into English -- an amazing feat for someone who came from an illiterate family in Algeria. Given how intense questions about "the other" are across the globe — who really belongs where and who doesn't — Camus' book is even more relevant than ever.
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It's been 75 years since Albert Camus published L'Étranger — usually translated as The Stranger or The Outsider. And it continues to be the most translated book from French into English. Given how intense questions about "the other" are across the globe — who really belongs where and who doesn't — Camus' book is even more relevant than ever. Radio Canada producer Danny Braun speaks with a novelist, a rapper, some academics and a former death row inmate to delve into the enduring appeal of L'Étranger — both to the intellect and to the heart. **This episode originally aired December 8, 2017. Ron Keine was on death row in New Mexico for a murder he didn't commit when he first read Camus' L'Étranger. The book may have helped save his life. 0:55
Written by an outsider about an outsider, L'Étranger holds an irresistible fascination for all those who read it. The author, Albert Camus, came from an illiterate family in Algeria, a pied-noir, neither fully at home in either Algeria or France, or anywhere else for that matter. Meursault, the main character, is also alienated from his surroundings, and eventually kills an Arab without really understanding why. First published in 1942, the novel still speaks to us — witness how societies in the West and elsewhere are still grappling with what to do with "the other", as the rise in both Islamic violence and Islamophobia would attest.
The enduring appeal of the book is as personal as it is political.
Andrew Hussey is a journalist and professor of French at the University of London Institute, Paris. His documentary about Camus is called: Inside the Outsider.
Ron Keine was sentenced in 1974 to death in New Mexico for a murder he didn't commit. Nine days before his execution, he was cleared. He's now an anti-death penalty activist with the organization, Witness to Innocence.
Ghislain Loussingui works with marginalized youth in Marseilles, where he also writes and performs rap music under the name "Mystik". Watch Ghislain Loussingui's Solitaire Solidaire, music video inspired by Camus.