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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,354 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
La toute jeune Lalla a pour ancêtres les « hommes bleus », guerriers du désert saharien. Elle vit dans un bidonville, mais ne peut les oublier. La puissance de la nature et des légendes, son amour pour le Hartani, un jeune berger muet, une évasion manquée vers « leur » désert, l'exil à Marseille, tout cela ne peut que durcir son âme lumineuse. Lalla a beau travailler dans ...more
Paperback, 438 pages
Published September 4th 1985 by Folio (first published 1980)
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Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Displacement, exile, refugee crossing, ethnic cleansing. J. M. G. Le Clézio's themes are heavy. They are the stuff of enduring human conflicts, the bane of civilization. Yet the register of his writing makes bearable the human failings and violence it seeks to redress. His prose register is poetry, but it is poetry lightened by silence and simplicity.

"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
May 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautifully written. The language and descriptions of the desert and its people are stunning. But I felt at a remove from the characters, separated from them as by a wall of clouds. Could this have something to do with the translation? Or was it because there was almost no dialogue, just a monologue by an omniscient narrator who tells us what the characters are doing and what they feel?

I don't know. But it isn't often that I throw in the towel on a book only 10 pages from the end.
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone

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
Ana Carvalheira
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alternando o facto histórico com uma realidade fictícia, Jean Marie Gustave Le Clézio, oferece-nos, neste “Deserto” uma narrativa assombrosa sobre as condições de vida de um povo, nómada nas suas perambulações decorrentes da ameaça de uma guerra que, no início do século 20, opôs o povo magrebino à hegemonia do ocidente, nomeadamente, às aspirações colonialistas da França e da Grã-Bretanha que, procuravam no norte de África, processos de exploração territorial aliados à configuração de uma nova e ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Desert nomads' struggle for survival and postcolonial astonishing homecoming, in beautiful prose!

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
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
First the confession: I had never heard of Le Clezio until he won the Nobel in 2008, then when I bought the book a few months later, it was not the Noble prize that compelled me, but the picture on the cover of the verbamundi hardcover edition– an enigmatic woman with a blue veil. (the picture, by the way, is by photographer Dan Heller).

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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
While there was some very good prose and a very good story concept, this book, for me, was disjointed and, largely, overwritten.

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
Monica Carter
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Helena K.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peut-être dû au fait d’avoir commencé à écrire pendant qu’il était encore enfant, Le Clézio a gardé dans son texte une perspective infantile, chargée d’humanité, simple, pure – une caractéristique qu’il a su transporter à la trajectoire des deux personnages principaux de Désert. Avec près de 100 ans de distance parmi eux, Lalla et Nour partagent leur existence dans le désert, l’expérience de la migration et la rencontre avec une réalité différente de celle qui leur avait été promise. Tandis qu’i ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning there were the nomads, men and women whose faces and bodies were tinted blue with indigo and sweat... Those looking for a fast moving plot will be disappointed, but Désert is a beautiful novel full of dreamy prose; a journey, an unromanticised glimpse of life in the Sahara, deep in the desert where only the nomads can live.
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
It so often seems that all late 20th Century French literature lies in the shadow of Proust. Duras, Sollers, Simon, and apparently Monsieur Le Clézio as well. The style is so persistently rapturous, so caught up in breathless reverie and dazzling impressionism, that it might take a while for a "story" to appear. That's fine by me.

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
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Qu'est ce que je pense de ce livre ecrit en 1980 qui est une spiritualite interieure, un chemin personnel dans le monde des annees 80 devenu de plus plus utilitaire et mercantile. L'ecrivain aide par son epouse marocaine, Jemia traverse l'ocean de desert a la recherchew d'un calme interieur qu'une curiosite avive en lui a l'ecoute du bruissement des choses de la terre autour de luiqui suscite, avive et aiguise son interet devant son identite et ce par rapport aux autres.
Le livre est structure co
Jesse K
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
Desert was an amazing book. It was published 7 years after the Giants, but it seems like it was written 40 years later by an entirely different man. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Le Clezio still employs alot of the same tricks like long descriptions of people walking and minute objects. While his other books made me go "holy f$%!", the Desert actually managed to effect me emotionally by placing those tricks around a more, well-in comparison more, plot driven narrative. The first 7 of hi ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took quite a long time to read this book. Not that the writing is that difficult to read, but the author doesn't exactly narrate a lot of action. There's 80% of thoughts and descriptions in general in this book.
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
Suraj Alva
Was reading this book in French and not a translation, got to page 70 and couldn't take it anymore. It is too effing repetitive, the author just labors on and on and on and on, on unnecessary and redundant details; so much so that you feel as if he got his money per the number of pages he wrote. Trust me, the feeling that you get that the author is just wasting words is not because of the translation {if you are reading a translated version}, but is the essence of the work {in its original langu ...more
Ben Winch
I struggled through about half of this because I was traveling and didn't have anything else to read, but I found it absolutely flat, opaque and affectless. Wondering if I'd missed something through lack of attention, when I got back to Australia I gave it to my dad to read, and his response was the same, despite his tastes being fairly different to mine. This just seems a clear case of overreach: Le Clezio doesn't have the requisite empathy with his (mostly black, African, poor) characters and ...more
Mehdi Jemaa
Les 2 étoiles vont au talent incontournable de l’auteur et à sa plume renversante, à sa sensibilité, et à sa capacité à nous incruster des images dans notre imaginaire avec une facilité agaçante parfois.
une longue et éprouvante lecture qui n’en vaut certainement pas le coup mais alors la pas du tout la trame de l’histoire pourrait être résumées en une 50 des pages.
À la fin c’est un peu plus intéressant, la description de la violence de l’occupation française sur le sol mauritanien et marocain
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Two linked stories about tradition and progress and what we as a civilisation have come to sacrifice to get where we are.
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
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, tuaregs
The absolutely stunning descriptive passages were slow and lyrical. I felt through everything I was watching a movie, not reading a book. The author's power of words was amazingly vivid, even in translation. This is the story of the desert in North Africa, the near wiping out of the whole Tuareg nation [a nomadic tribe, the so-called "blue men"] told through the story of Nour, a Tuareg boy, and the forced march he and his people endure in 1910. This story alternates with that of Lalla, in the pr ...more
Oct 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I am perplexed by Le Clezio's "Desert"; it is so beautifully written that it actually becomes mesmerizing. Such mastery of language in the most classical sense... I could not help sensing some strong Proustian affinities!
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.
I Am
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ცოტა ძნელად წასაკითხია, და გაწელილიც, მაგრამ მაგარი ის არის რომ წიგნის გადაშლისთანავე შენც უდაბნოში აღმჩნდები, გრძნობ იქაურ სიცხეს, ქვიშიან ქარებს, უდაბნს ხმაურს(რომელიც საცრად არის აღწერილი) და უდაბნოს თავისუფლებას, ასევე ლოდინს ყოველდღე, რომელსაც მოცული აქვს იქაურობა. ძალიან ინფორმაციული წიგნია, მოკლედ ღირს წაკითხვად.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literatura
Hace mucho, mucho tiempo, que no leía algo que tuviera un manejo de lenguaje tan potente y estremecedor como lo que escribe JMG Le Clézio. Sin demasiados problemas, uno puede respirar la atmósfera, sentir, vivir el desierto en cada página, las angustias de los personajes. Sensaciones arenosas garantizadas -en el mejor de los sentidos-.
Mostafa Troski
بخش لالا کتاب بهتر بود بنظرم
بخش نور، یه جوری بود، نمی شد زیاد درکش کرد

نوبل ادبیات رو بنظرم به یه نویسنده( بخاطر تمام کارهای ادبیش) میدن نه بخاطر یه کتاب خاص، چون بیابان بنظرم دهه 1980 نوشته شده، چطور نوبل 2008 رو بهش دادن؟!!!

احتمالا انتشارات خواسته ازین عنوان استفاده کنه برای فروش بیشتر

البته در کل کتاب خوبیه
با طرز تفکرهای شبیه لالا خیلی حال می کنم!!
Aaron Cance
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A handsomely written, sprawling epic that chronicles the slow death of a North African culture. Le Clézio's prose reminded me, a great deal of that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, i.e. you won't rip through it quickly, but why would you want to when the journey is this moving.
Marcus de Melo
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sagarana no deserTOPster
Oxana Gutu
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My next stop on the “Read all Nobel price in Literature” journey took me to North Africa, as seen by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Le Clezio received the Nobel prize for literature in 2008.He wrote “Désert”/”The desert” in 1980.DesertClezio
The desert appeared to me as a metaphor for human misery and emptiness, but also for wholeness and its intrinsic happiness. The human misery and happiness are told through stories of descendants of a man believed to be holy by his North African nomadic people
Grady Ormsby
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Desert by French-Mauritian writer J.M.G LeClezio is a dual narrative told in alternating chapters. Set in 1909 the first story is of Nour, a young Taureg man, who joins his fellow tribesmen, the Blue Men, as they are forced by French colonial invaders to flee across the desert from their traditional land. They follow Ma al-Ainne, their political and religious leader in a vain search for a land in which they can again be free. It’s a harsh reminder of the greed, cruelty and contempt of colonial ...more
David R. Godine
"Desert is a rich, sprawling, searching, poetic, provocative, broadly historic and demanding novel, which in all those ways displays the essence of Le Clézio. As a reflection on colonization and its legacy, it is painfully relevant after 30 years. There is an element of the missionary in Le Clézio, just as there is still something of the rebel in him, in search of the new novel, trying to break loose from the traditional bonds of fiction and language to mirror a wider world — as the Nobel citati ...more
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the beginning there were the nomads, men and women whose faces and bodies were tinted blue with indigo and sweat... Those looking for a fast moving plot will be disappointed, but Désert is a beautiful novel full of dreamy prose; a journey, an unromanticised glimpse of life in the Sahara, deep in the desert where only the nomads can live.
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
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2008, J.M.G. Le Clézio won the Nobel Prize. Le Désert was subsequently translated into 23 languages, and became a best-seller around the world. I decided to add this book to my list of Middle Eastern literature as one of the very few written by an author who is not from the Middle East not because of the accolades it and its writer have received, but because of the dream-like quality of his descriptions reminiscent of the Sahara.

Le Clézio weaves together the stories of Nour, a Berber boy, who
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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.
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“It was as if there were no names here, as if there were no words. The desert cleansed everything in its wind, wiped everything away. The men had the freedom of the open spaces in their eyes, their skin was like metal. Sunlight blazed everywhere. The ochre, yellow, gray, white sand, the fine sand shifted, showing the direction of the wind. It covered all traces, all bones. It repelled light, drove away water, life, far from a center that no one could recognize. The men knew perfectly well that the desert wanted nothing to do with them: so they walked on without stopping, following the paths that other feet had already traveled in search of something else.” 6 likes
“Out there, in the open desert, men can walk for days without passing a single house, seeing a well, for the desert is so vast that no one can know it all. Men go out into the desert, and they are like ships at sea; no one knows when they will return. Sometimes there are storms, but nothing like here, terrible storms, and the wind tears up the sand and throws it high into the sky, and the men are lost. They die, drowned in the sand, they die lost like ships in a storm, and the sand retains their bodies. Everything is so different in that land; the sun isn't the same as it is here, it burns hotter, and there are men that come back blinded, their faces burned. Nights, the cold makes men who are lost scream out in pain, the cold breaks their bones. Even the men aren't the same as they are here...they are cruel, they stalk their pray like foxes, drawing silently near. They are black, like the Hartani, dressed in blue, faces veiled. They aren't men, but djinns, children of the devil, and they deal with the devil; they are like sorcerers... ” 6 likes
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