"Desert is a novel composed of two alternating narratives, set in counterpoint. The first takes place in the desert between 1909 and 1912 and evokes the migration of a young adolescent boy, Nour, and his people, the Blue Men, notorious warriors of the desert. Driven from their lands by French colonial soldiers, Nour's tribe has come to the valley of the Saguiet El Hamra to...more
"There is no limit to the extent to which we can think ourselves into the being of another", says J. M. Coetzee's eponymous novelist in Elizabeth C ...more
This French author won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2008. I had never heard of him before his award, as is embarrassingly true of many of the Nobel Prize winners when they are not American or English. Recently I resolved to read at least one book of each of these writers as long as they write novels. Having read Desert, I understand why he was awarded. The book was originally published in French by Editions Gallimard in 1980 and translated into English for release in 2009.
Easily one of the m ...more
Having grown up in a moderate tropical wet land and immigrated to a moderate filth of metro, I have felt the warm sand and soil, flints of hot stones reflecting light on bare feet, brazier kind of setup in winters, torrential downpours, dust storm of red soil. Once my father got caught in middle of a hailstorm, after our bullocks cart got mangled in the winds. He walked down the last mile to home in ...more
To be lead to this book by a picture is ironic, as the reading of Desert is so much akin of watching a painter drawing and coloring on a canvas. It ...more
I don't know. But it isn't often that I throw in the towel on a book only 10 pages from the end.
Le livre est structure co ...more
Desert by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio is a perfect example of why Le Clézio won the Nobel in 2008, even though he was little known in the United States –sprawling, place specific narratives that bring to life the histories of cultures we do not know and that the world is quickly forgetting. One thing not to expect when you read Desert is a fast-paced narrative that immediately transplants you into another place and time. It does take to another place, but in as low, slightly repetitive pace tha ...more
The story of Nour is based on true events during the beginning of the 20th century when the sheik Ma El Aïnin, a great leader of the nomads, founded the city ...more
The idea of showing an inherited untamed spirit of the last North African desert tribes to hold out against the "Christian invaders" is a good one. Unfortunately, the stories of past and present, through much of the novel, are only tenuously connected. I like that the author has chosen a woman to embody this spirit.
The freedom accorded to Lalla as a young teenager is no ...more
Desert is absolutely gorgeous, there's no doubt about that. And I found myself really liking Lalla as a protagonist. OK, she's the sort of existentialist heroine who yo ...more
Beginning of the twentieth century, Nour, one of the last of a disappearing tribe who have to start a migration through the desert to find their homeland.
Lalla, the descendant of that now disappeared tribe, who has to take her own journey to find what's lacking in her life.
Prose which should be read as poetry, through the senses. I think that if you try to read this novel in ...more
I am glad I persevered with Le Clezio, because this was definitely a very good novel. It did have some weaknesses: it was somewhat too religious for my taste ...more
Yet, I also felt the book was so strangely empty; the thought dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, Le Clezio engineered that emptiness to reflect the vast empty horizon of the desert itself.
The first thing that I loved about it was the setting of the story. Even in my bed, no sound around the house, I could feel the wind, the sun on my skin. I've definitely been transported by it.
Two stories are assembled, but as there's not a lot of action, and as the characters are rea ...more
It is total immersion in the natural environment of the desert of Africa, exquisite prose.
Even when it takes a short diversion into the city of Marseilles, it is still about immersion in the sound, the feel, the light, what is seen.
The history of early 20th century in north Africa is largely unknown to people educated in Australia, and so I was fa ...more
Le second récit se situe au maghreb puis à marseille. Lalla est l'héroïne maintenant.elle refuse toutes les compromissions dans lesquelles o ...more
The exquisite prose provides a magic carpet to North Africa in the 1900's about to experience further colonization, partitioning and war. You are absolutely there with all your senses.
I also found this slice of history a very timely read.The quest for safety,identity and a homeland is little changed today across the same sweep of desert and this book helped me understand the power of tribe and t ...more
Quote: "Does time exist when a few minutes are enough to kill a thousand men, a thousan ...more
Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 14 March 2014
For Europeans the desert is an intriguing place, comparable only to the High Seas, the Polar Regions and Outer Space. The Nobel laureate in literature of 2008, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, dedicated one of his novel to the magic of the desert. The impressive scenes of Desert are Morocco or Western Sahara and Marseille, France, alternately in 1909/10 and in moder ...more
Le Clézio weaves together the stories of Nour, a Berber boy, who ...more