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eBook ISBN

Publication date
7th May 2020


Gallic Books


Extent (number of pages)

C. Dickson


UK, Europe, BC exc CAN

BIC category


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The African



The African is a memoir of a lost childhood and a tribute to a father whom Le Clézio never really knew.

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‘From that moment on, there was to be a before and an after Africa for me.’

In 1948, a young J. M. G. Le Clézio left behind a still-devastated Europe with his mother and brother to join his father, a military doctor in Nigeria, from whom he had been separated by the war.

In his characteristically intimate, poetic voice, the Nobel Prize-winning author relates both the child’s dazzled discovery of freedom in the African savannah and the torment of recalling his fractured relationship with a rigid, authoritarian father.

Now available to UK readers in English for the first time, The African is a memoir of a lost childhood and a tribute to a father whom Le Clézio never really knew. His legacy is the passionate anti-colonialism that the author has carried through his life.

‘A work of bewitching beauty and humanity. With penetrating prose and an eye for lyrical detail, [Le Clézio] vividly captures the rhythmic space of his memoir’s African backdrop and makes bare the universal complexity of father-son relationships. A triumph!’ Chinua Achebe
‘Haunting’ The Guardian
‘Le Clézio is ever the master at rendering existence at the level of sensation with a daring and admirable freshness of language’ New York Times
‘A memory palace, a deliberately disordered evocation of the past that hopscotches through time’ Boston Globe
‘A vivid depiction of a splintered childhood and the lovely wholeness procured from it’ Kirkus Review
‘Affective and moving … The specter of colonialism ghosts through this memoir, of great men adrift of purpose, of irreconcilable worlds’ World Literature Today
Praise for J. M. G. Le Clézio
‘Author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization’ Swedish Academy, 2008 Nobel Prize
‘A genuinely brilliant author’ The Guardian
‘A writer of something akin to genius’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Mr. Le Clézio is like a post-Darwin Rousseau, decrying the ruination of indigenous cultures around the world’ Wall Street Journal
J. M. G. Le Clézio

Meet the author

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was born in 1940 in Nice, France. His first novel, Le Procès-Verbal (The Interrogation), won the Prix Renaudot in 1963 and established him as one of France’s most important writers. He has published more than forty works of fiction and non-fiction, and was awarded the No…

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