"The First Man is a radiant, deeply moving novel of childhood. Camus intended it as the opening book of a projected epic - his War and Peace - but in its storytelling magic and its evocative power, it has a satisfying completeness on its own, covering, as it does, the years of Camus's childhood in Algeria. As he recaptures memories of growing up fatherless with a deaf-mute mother and an illiterate, tyrannical grandmother, Camus renders the poverty of a working-class neighborhood transcended by all the sensuous pleasures that nourish this boy's young life. Throughout there is the undercurrent of a frustrating search for a father and the awareness of the escalating tension between Algeria and France. But with the miraculous intervention of a wise schoolteacher, the future suddenly opens up.