Quasi-autobiographical in nature the First Man follows the protagonist Jacques Cormery as he embarks on a journey to learn about his father who was killed during the First World War while the character was still very young and as a result remembers little about him. However in doing so he ends up reflecting on his own humble beginnings growing up in abject poverty in this coming-of-age story. Born during a time when being poor very likely meant a future with dim prospects, the protagonist is fortunate to have his trajectory changed when a teacher recognizes his academic potential and helps tutor Cormery in preparation for a placement exam at the Lycee in Algiers and a the possibility of a much brighter future. Vividly written, the author effortlessly transports the reader back to early twentieth century French Algeria, and yet is still very accessible having a lot to say about the human condition.
If you were a fan of the Stranger I would definitely recommend this novel.