Most monumental books (for me) have been incidental. I usually have picked them on a lark or borrowed them because I liked some thing in them. And as I read the book it opened up a whole new world for me and made me greedy for more.
Albert Camus’ The Outsider made me feel that way. A conversation, after a couple of beers, had someone telling me how this was once his anthem. That fellow is interesting and I had to explore what his anthem must have been.
Its book (though cloaked with existentialism) is true even today. I come across numerous instances in my life here where things are said and done because they should be and going against the grain will only draw criticism. I have felt it more in Delhi than in Mumbai but that could also be because here I am, perhaps, more clued in to my surroundings.
The story is simple and was summed by the author himself. “In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death.” Read it because the book brings back things to that can be your personal memories.
And reading about the author I realised why he can be a hero for many – he had radical beliefs, he fought every step of the way and died relatively early – a fitting end one might say.