Robert Siegel

The most talked-about novel written in French recently is not by a Frenchman, but by an Algerian, newspaper editor Kamel Daoud. It's called The Meursault Investigation, and it's a response to the most famous novel ever written by a French Algerian, a mainstay of the 20th century canon: The Stranger, by Albert Camus.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A moment now of reality colliding with politics.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At an event called Good Living in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with some schoolchildren.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

In Havana, Cuba, the old cars that crowd the streets used to symbolize a stagnant nation. Now enterprising Cubans have begun renting cars out to tourists who are hungry for the cars of their youth.

During my reporting trip to Havana, I spoke with Julio Alvarez, the owner of Nostalgicar in Havana.

He joked that one thing Cubans should thank Fidel Castro for is all the old, majestic American cars that are now making him money.

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Miguel Coyula points at an open door in the middle of Old Havana. The mahogany door looks worn, but still handsome. The concrete facade has lost most of its paint, and time has ripped parts of it open.

"That's marble," Coyula says, pointing to the treads of the staircase. "They are the remnants of something that was very glorious."

Coyula is an architect and an economist, and as he walks through the streets of Havana, he doesn't just see breathtaking decay. He sees how economic policies and social circumstances have shaped this city.

It was still dark when Tania Bruguera hopped into a cab with us on her way to Revolution Square.

"All of a sudden it looks quite subversive what we're doing," she said. Her voice revealed a little nervousness, but it translated into a giddy laughter.

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