Onitsha
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Onitsha

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Onitsha tells the story of Fintan, a youth who travels to Africa in 1948 with his Italian mother to join the English father he has never met. Fintan is initially enchanted by the exotic world he discovers in Onitsha, a bustling city prominently situated on the eastern bank of the Niger River. But gradually he comes to recognize the intolerance and brutality of the colonial...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Bison Books (first published January 1st 1991)
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Best European Literature
252nd out of 470 books — 195 voters
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Joy
One of the best books I've read recently. The language is rich, elegant, evocative.
Susan
It wasn’t until the end of the novel that I really connected this novel with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun which was based on the Biafran War in the 1960ies where the eastern part of Nigeria, primarily represented by the Igbo people, were hounded into succession and an attempt to found their own state. Or that I began to wonder why so much of the literary output of Nigeria (besided Adichie, Chinua Achebe in the previous generation and Chris Abani more recently)—at least...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Wow.

Like many other bemused Indian booklovers, I bought this book because it was the only work by this year's Nobel winner available in stores and I wanted to know what the fuss was all about.

I came away moved and impressed - convinced that, if Le Clezio generally writes at this level, the Nobel is well deserved.

It's the story of a young European boy and his mother who move to Nigeria to be with his English father, his family's various engagements with the country, its people and its heritage...more
Annabelle
Le Clezio is this year’s Nobel laureate. This is a fictionalized memoir of Le Clézio’s childhood trip to Nigeria, where he lived with his father, whom he had never met until the age of10,who is Geoffery, an Englishman working for the United African Trade Company. His mother, Maou, is Italian and a free spirit. He has grown up in Europe on the French Mediterranean. She was poor and Geoffery left for the war in African soon after they married, so they lived with a women and an elderly woman they c...more
Mary
Each family member is reaching for Onitsha in his or her own way – Geoffrey through religion/legend (interesting that a different typeface is used – first sense that this book is also about Geoffrey, that he has a soul – p 71); Maou through people, and Fintan through the sense of physical location – also, while the initial impression is that each is just in his or her own world, they are aware of each other’s reaching out.
Surprised to find out that Geoffrey is Fintan’s father – p 67 – sense befo...more
Corinne Stoppelli
Apr 18, 2008 Corinne Stoppelli rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kimisse
Shelves: favorites
Un voyage au coeur de l'Afrique: trois acteurs, trois visions sensiblement nuancées.

Geoffroy travaille pour une compagnie française à Onitsha. Il demande à sa femme Maou et son fils Fintan, qu'il ne connaît pas encore, de les rejoindre.

Maou, forte de son passé d'enfant caché, espère de l'Afrique une libération, une brûlure agréable sur la peau.
Fintan se trouve projeté dans un conflit de culture et d'identité saisissant.
Geoffreoy se retrouve pris entre plusieurs feux: le milieu colonial dont il e...more
Sara
Reading the first pages of this novel was not that exciting. To me it was extremely slow, and did not captivate my interest. But then… something happens; when Fintan, the young protagonist, docked at the banks of the Niger River with Moau, his Italian mother, a new oneiric world opens in front of the reader. I am glad I didn’t put the book down.
I loved the dreamy passages on the historical and mythological references on Africa’s legendary past -the charming black queen of Meroë and her search fo...more
Kristianne
I ran into Sherman Alexie the other day and we talked about reading Nobel winners after they have been chosen for the award. We read these authors with a particular scrutiny since we know what apparently the rest of the world thinks of his/her work. That said, I really enjoyed Onitsha. LeClezio is a model post-colonial author, balancing European guilt and apology with the complicated paternalism of the colonists' tribal envy. He outlines these roles through the young and resilient main character...more
Dan
I was curious about Le Clezio's writing after reading about his Nobel Prize, but even more when I read that his ideas of place and the modern nomadic lifestyle were appropriate for our times. This book is not a page turner, but it is very honest, filled with the innocence of the young protagonist, the beauty and danger of Onitsha (an African town), and the way places can grow inside us. Le Clezio is a marvelous writer who occasionally gets carried away by his love of names and myths, but I was v...more
Jenny
This is a small book full of exquisite details. It can be read on many levels -- as a story about a family that has been separated and is trying to come together, as a journey or quest, or as a description of the clash of unfamiliar cultures. It is the story of a young boy, Fintan, who in 1948 travels with his French/Italian mother from France to Nigeria to rejoin his British father. In Onitsha, each member of the family learns about themselves and the culture that they have come to join.
Nina Chachu
I wasn't sure whether I would like this book, as various mentions of LeClezio had indicated that he was not an "easy" writer. This novel seemed to be almost autobiographical in some ways, and maybe that was one of the reasons I found it so moving. The different perspectives did work, though of course the major part of the book was written from the point of view of Fintam, a young teenager, on his first visit to his father's posting in post-World War II Onitsha.
Vildan Arıcan
hmmm that was really awesome coz that author really deceived me..when ı have seen his photo I was just shocked to see a white half--frenchman:)

such an objective and clearly explained, empathic work...you gonna love the point of view...gonna experience all the things (pro/con) fromm the vantage point of a child, Called as Fintan.

"love" always ends if it has a link to materialism...colonial end...
Suzanne
Not so much happens in this book. Another writer might have compressed the events into a short story, but then again, the slow pace mimics the way that time is experienced by children. Le Clezio is known for his descriptive writing, and there are definitely plenty of phrases worth lingering over in this book of a boy's journey to Africa to meet his father for the first time.
missy lambert
This is the first work I've read by JMG LeClezio, the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. And I was amazed. Onitsha is both mystical and subversive--two traits that I love in literature, but there are so few books that manage both at once--and I was totally hypnotized by LeClezio's dreamy prose. A gorgeous read.
Becky
Incredible and lovely book about a 12 year-old French/English boy, Fintan, who with his mother goes to live with his father in Africa. I'm reminded of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe as well as other more contemporary books about Africa - especially Nigeria.
Gayle
I was given this book by my sister-in-law who is an editor at Nebraska Press otherwise I may not have chosen it. It was a story of a woman and her son going to Africa in the 40's to meet up with her husband. It was a difficult life and hard to imagine.
Bob
Sorry to say, I just could never get into this book and stopped reading after about a hundred pages. My main criticism is it was just too slow. Judging from some of the other reviews, I may have missewd a good thing.
Kathy
This is my first of Le Clezio's books. It's great. His descriptions bring to life this slice of colonial Africa and the young boy's experiences getting there and living there. I hope to read Desert by him as well.
Christina
I am not so impressed. Possibly not deep enough. Confusing with all the names and it would have helped to have some type of preface/author's note to check into to have some clue of part of the passages.
Jody Curtis
A story about cultural domination. In the end, the British ship wrecked, rusted and sank into the copper-colored river on the edge of Biafra. Literally and metaphorically, in Onitsha.
Dawn
Le Clezio just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. This book takes you to Africa--through the eyes of the boy Fintan, I experienced the smells, tastes, and feelings that he experienced.
Lorraine
Wow. I find myself mesmerized by LeClezio's dreamy style, the settings of colonial power built on the backs of the natives and the European children who observe it.
Rachel
For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into this book. I never really connected with any of the characters, and I found the story to be dull and slow-paced.
Lisa
I started reading this book after Le Clezio won the Nobel Prize in literature. I could never get into the story. After 100 pages, I had to put it down.
AC Fick
Le Clezio is superb, sentence by sentence, page by page, compelling and challenging at every turn, but always rewarding to the patient reader.
Juanita
Wow. 1940's. Going out to Africa by
ship. A month journey and then
there is Africa. Colonial Africa.
Sammalpeura
May 26, 2010 Sammalpeura is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Jäi kesken, koska hukkasin kirjan jonnekin. Nyt se löytyi, joten eiköhän jatku taas joskus. :)
Amanda
Dec 28, 2008 Amanda added it
French vocabulary
Post World War II circumstances in West Africa
Rafa
Se puede sentir el calor, olor, sabor... del río Níger. Es muy bueno.
Elizabeth
Oct 09, 2008 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
J. M. G. Le Clezio won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature.
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Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, better known as J.M.G. Le Clézio (born 13 April 1940) is a Franco-Mauritian novelist. The author of over forty works, he was awarded the 1963 Prix Renaudot for his novel Le Procès-Verbal (The Interrogation) and the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature.
More about Jean-Marie G. Le Clézio...
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