Stephen Durrant's Reviews > Wandering Star

Wandering Star by Jean-Marie G. Le Clézio
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Dec 15, 2008

really liked it

J.M.G. Le Clezio just won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Francoise, my hyper-literate French wife, has never ranked him among modern France's greatest writers, but others would disagree. The announcement of his award made less of a splash in France this year than I would have expected, perhaps some indication of his ambivalent reception in his native country. This was only my second Le Clezio book, the other read in French (L'Africain). I am not sure "Wandering Star" is a great novel, but it is a very noble and big-hearted novel. Le Clezio tells the story of Esther, a young and highly sensitive Jewish girl who is driven by Nazis from her home in Nice to the Maritime Alps and then to Italy. After the war ends, she migrates with her mother to Israel. Le Clezio mixes his portrayal of the cruelty of the Nazi pursuit of the Jews with powerful glimpses of genuine humanity. And the later migration to Israel and proclamation of the state of Israel is not an end, but a continuation of struggle and conflict. In a quite daring and, I think, effective move, Le Clezio introduces a young Arab woman, a kind of double of Esther, and uses this character and her story to tell of the tragedy of the Arab camps during the early years of the Israeli state. This novel has been criticized as "disjointed," but the politics are spot-on and the profoundly humanistic tone moving. I should note, too, that Le Clezio belongs with other French writers like Laurent Gaude, who are expansive and romantic, rather than with the "small" writers, often brilliant in their own right, who focus intensely on sometimes claustrophic personalities or situations (Modiano, Ernaux, Jauffret, etc.). So, anyway, I have to read more Le Clezio!
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10/31/2016 marked as: read

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