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J. M. G. Le Clézio


When Le Clézio won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008, the Anglophone press was almost unanimous in its surprise, primarily because they had never heard of him. The Los Angeles Times’ headline – Le Clezio — who’s he? – with its accent-challenged naming of him (shared by many others) was typical. Few of his books were in print in the English-speaking world (though, to be fair, quite a few were out of print in France as well), though enterprising publishers did republish some of them, but probably made little money out of him. US commentators were already smarting at the comments made by Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Nobel prize jury, to the effect that US writing was too isolated, too insular. They had a field day with the very unknown and very French Le Clézio.

J. M. G. (Jean-Marie Gustave) Le Clézio was born in Nice in 1940. His father was a doctor and an English national whose family was from Mauritius. As he was brought up partially in Nigeria and partially in England, he speaks fluent English. He studied at the University of Nice (bachelor’s), University of Aix-en-Provence (master’s) and University of Perpignan (doctorate). After university, he travelled extensively and taught in the United States. His first novel, Le Procès-verbal (The Interrogation), brought him early fame. He has since published many novels, stories, essays and books of travel writing. His early writings were experimental but, in later life, he has been more traditional, focusing on myth and dreams, and more autobiographical in nature. He has become an expert on Native American culture. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008.

Other sites

J. M. G. Le Clézio
J. M. G. Le Clézio
Nobel Prize Award
Nobel Lecture (also available in French, German and Swedish)

Bemused comments on his winning the Nobel Prize

Author Le Clezio wins Nobel prize
JMG Le Clézio: overdue for recognition – and translation
Le Clezio — who’s he?
French Writer Wins Nobel Prize
French Novelist Le Clézio: A Nobel Surprise
Nobel literature winner, France’s Le Clezio is little known in the U.S.

Links in French
Le Clézio: I belong to the Breton nation
J. M. G. Le Clézio (in French)
J. M. G. Le Clézio (in French)
J. M. G. Le Clézio (in French)
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (in French)
Le Clézio, prix Nobel 2008 (in French)
Association des lecteurs de
J.-M.G. Le Clézio
(in French)
Interview (in French)
La faille identitaire chez les personnages de Le Clézio (in French)
Interview (in French)


1963 Le Procès-verbal (The Interrogation) (novel)
1964 Le Jour où Beaumont fit connaissance avec sa douleur (story)
1965 La Fièvre (Fever) (stories)
1965 La liberté pour rêver (Freedom to Dream) (essay)
1965 La liberté pour parler (Freedom to Speak) (essay)
1966 Le Déluge (The Flood) (novel)
1967 L’Extase matérielle (essays)
1967 Terra Amata (Terra Amata) (novel)
1969 Le Livre des fuites (The Book of Flights) (novel)
1970 La Guerre (War) (novel)
1970 Lullaby (children’s)
1971 Haï (essay)
1973 Mydriase (Mydriasis) (essay)
1973 Les Géants (The Giants) (novel)
1975 Voyages de l’autre côté (novel)
1978 Mondo et autres histoires (Mondo and Other Stories) (stories)
1978 L’Inconnu sur la terre (essay)
1978 Vers les icebergs (To the Icebergs) (essay)
1978 Voyage au pays des arbres (children’s)
1980 Désert (Desert) (novel)
1980 Lullaby (children’s)
1980 Trois Villes saintes (essay)
1982 La Ronde et autres faits divers (The Round & Other Cold Hard Facts) (stories)
1984 Celui qui n’avait jamais vu la mer (The Boy Who Had Never Seen the Sea) suivi de La Montagne du dieu vivant (children’s)
1985 Le Chercheur d’or (The Prospector) (novel)
1985 Villa Aurore suivi de Orlamonde (children’s)
1985 Balaabilou (children’s)
1986 Voyage à Rodrigues (novel)
1987 Les Années Cannes: 40 Ans de festival
1987 Sur Lautréamont (literature)
1989 Le Rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue (The Mexican Dream or The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations)
1989 Printemps et autres saisons (stories)
1990 La Grande Vie suivi de Peuple du ciel (children’s)
1991 Onitsha (Onitsha) (novel)
1992 Etoile errante (Wandering Star) (novel)
1992 Pawana (story)
1993 Diego et Frida (biography)
1995 La quarantaine [The Quarantine] (novel)
1995 Ailleurs: entretiens sur France-Culture avec Jean-Louis Ezine (conversations)
1997 Poisson d’or (novel)
1997 La Fête chantée (essays)
1997 Gens des nuages (travel)
1999 Hasard, suivi de Angoli Mala (novels)
2000 Coeur brûle et autres romances (stories)
2000 Fantômes dans la rue (story)
2002 L’enfant de sous le pont (children’s)
2003 Révolutions (novel)
2003 Enfances (text to photos by Christophe Kuhn)
2004 L’Africain (The African) (story)
2006 Ourania [Urania] (novel)
2006 Raga. Approche du continent invisible (travel)
2007 Ballaciner (essay)
2008 Ritournelle de la faim (novel)
2011 Histoire du pied et autres fantaisies (stories)
2014 Tempête (stories)
2017 Alma (novel)
2017 Bitna: Sous le Ciel de Seoul (Bitna: Under the Sky of Seoul)
2019 (Quinze causeries en Chine
2020 Chanson bretonne, suivi de L’enfant et la guerre (stories)