Read Wüste by J.M.G. Le Clézio Online

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Avec Désert - prix Renaudot en 1980 - Le Clézio, écrivain discret, presque secret, accède à une reconnaissance enthousiaste du public. Depuis, sa notoriété ne s'est pas démentie au fil d'une production pourtant singulière, tant par la forme qui rompt avec le formalisme du roman que par les thèmes toujours en marge d'un monde qui avance irrémédiablement. Nourris au sein deAvec Désert - prix Renaudot en 1980 - Le Clézio, écrivain discret, presque secret, accède à une reconnaissance enthousiaste du public. Depuis, sa notoriété ne s'est pas démentie au fil d'une production pourtant singulière, tant par la forme qui rompt avec le formalisme du roman que par les thèmes toujours en marge d'un monde qui avance irrémédiablement. Nourris au sein de la nature vierge, de la mer ou des déserts, les personnages de Le Clézio, abreuvés de légendes intimes ou porteurs de l'histoire des peuples, errent inlassablement sur les chemins du retour. La certitude de l'appartenance, le souvenir des paysages perdus, constituent les forces vitales que ne peuvent ébranler la vulgarité des hommes ou l'emprise de la ville. Telle Lalla, arrivée dans les quartiers sordides de Marseille comme un navire échoué, mais avec la lumière du désert dans les yeux et le sang des guerriers du Rio de Oro dans les veines. Alors, si la force de l'identité rend tout exil cruel, elle tient aussi lieu d'espoir. --Lenaïc Gravis et Jocelyn Blériot...

Title : Wüste
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9783462021806
Format Type : Broché
Number of Pages : 423 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Wüste Reviews

  • Rise
    2018-11-20 10:28

    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 Costello; "There are no bounds to the sympathetic imagination." Le Clézio's sympathetic imagination in the novel Desert is bounded only by geography (Saharan desert, Morocco, France) and time (20th century). His treatment of the plight of the marginalized people and their culture crosses over from place to place, from one generation to the next. It crosses over from an individual to the collective. Hence, the gaze of a young boy is also the gaze of his tribe or clan: "His face was dark, sun-scorched, but his eyes shone and the light of his gaze was almost supernatural." The young boy is Nour, and his people is being persecuted out of the African desert. In the next paragraph, Le Clézio generalized the particular "light of his gaze":They were the men and women of the sand, of the wind, of the light, of the night. They had appeared as if in a dream at the top of a dune, as if they were born of cloudless sky and carried the harshness of space in their limbs. They bore with them hunger, the thirst of bleeding lips, the flintlike silence of the glinting sun, the cold nights, the glow of the Milky Way, the moon; accompanying them were their huge shadows at sunset, the waves of virgin sand over which their splayed feet trod, the inaccessible horizon. More than anything, they bore the light of their gaze shining so brightly in the whites of their eyes. [2-3, my emphasis]The poet Wislawa Szymborska expressed a similar journey across an inhospitable landscape. In her poem "Some People" (trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh), the same perilous rhythm can be detected.Some people flee some other people.In some country under a sunand some clouds.They abandon something like all they’ve got,sown fields, some chickens, dogs,mirrors in which fire now preens.Their shoulders bear pitchers and bundles.The emptier they get, the heavier they grow.A second narrative thread of Desert tells the story of Lalla, a descendant of Nour. Lalla's people no longer flee, but she chooses to escape her village. She runs away with a man when she was forced to marry another. The man she eloped with, "the Hartani", is a shepherd who lives like a hermit and doesn't communicate in the usual way.He doesn't speak. That is to say, he doesn't speak the same language as humans. But Lalla hears his voice inside her ears, and in his language he says very beautiful things that stir her body inwardly, that make her shudder. Maybe he speaks with the faint sound of the wind that comes from the depths of space, or else with the silence between each gust of wind. Maybe he speaks with the words of light, words that explode in showers of sparks on the razor-edged rocks, with the words of sand, the words of pebbles that crumble into hard powder, and also the words of scorpions and snakes that leave tiny indistinct marks in the dust. He knows how to speak with all of those words, and his gaze leaps, swift as an animal, from one rock to another, shoots all the way out to the horizon in a single move, flies straight up into the sky, soaring higher than the birds. [69, The placement of the text of Lalla's sections in the novel are justified, as distinguished from Nour's, which are left-aligned.]Le Clézio conveys the contradiction between silence and the power of words to express feelings and ideas. The Hartani seems to be representative of an old way of life, a simple life dependent on the natural elements, far from the priorities and demands of the city. The only way to speak with him is to look in his eyes. She looks at him and reads the light in his black eyes, and he looks deep into her amber eyes; he doesn't only look at her face, but really deep down into her eyes, and it's as if he understands what she wants to say to him. [82]The novel idealizes communication beyond words, in a natural setting, as opposed to the sounds of modernity in a city. Lalla can derive from the gaze of the Hartani the "essence" of things, maybe even those beyond the capacity of words to express.Now Lalla knows that words don't really count. It's only what you mean to say, deep down inside, like a secret, like a prayer: that's the only thing that counts. And the Hartani doesn't speak in any other way; he knows how to give and receive that kind of message. So many things are conveyed through silence. Lalla didn't know that either before meeting the Hartani. Other people expect only words, or acts, proof, but the Hartani, he looks at Lalla with his handsome metallic eyes, without saying anything, and it is through the light in his eyes that you hear what he's saying, what he's asking. [100]The descriptive function of words is not so much challenged as rejected. This passage, obviously of well chosen words, yet offers more than evocation of words. It is in the register of invocation ("like a secret, like a prayer") of a desert life, an elegy to a vanishing culture, to a threatened indigenous way of life.The novel as a whole offers a way of seeing beyond the surface of things, beyond the superficiality of words. As a persecuted people flee the harsh distances of the desert ("bundles rocking on their backs, like strange insects after a storm", 181-182), their pitiful silence seems both prayer and protest. Their quiet dignity and martyrdom provide a contrast to the people of a European city (the city Lalla escaped to) who are at the mercy of "immobile giants". That city, Marseilles, is worded in void.Lalla can feel the relentless dizziness of the void entering her, as if the wind blowing in the street was part of a long spiraling movement. Maybe the wind is going to tear the roofs off the sordid houses, smash in the doors and windows, knock down the rotten walls, heave all the cars into a pile of scrap metal. It's bound to happen, because there's too much hate, too much suffering… But the big building remains standing, stunting the men in its tall silhouette. They are the immobile giants, with bloody eyes, with cruel eyes, the giants who devour men and women. In their entrails, young women are thrown down on dirty old mattresses, and possessed in a few seconds by silent men with members as hot as pokers. Then they get dressed again and leave, and the cigarette – left burning on the edge of the table – hasn't had time to go out. Inside the devouring giants, old women lie under the weight of men who are crushing them, dirtying their yellow flesh. And so, in all of those women's wombs, the void is born, the intense and icy void that escapes from their bodies and blows like a wind along the streets and alleys, endlessly shooting out new spirals. [253-254]The image of monstrous buildings sexually leveling people under them – 180 degrees from the idylls of desert – reinforces the cruelty and devouring of small people by powerful men. In this dank city, Lalla's adventures are told in descriptive words, not sacrificing the things that ought to be said, the things that count. They are words of suffering and degradation. That is, until her transfiguration and acquisition of a new kind of power.Desert is an imagistic novel. From one exile to another, it recounts the never-ending quest for the equality of races and the security of a home. Beyond words, beyond aesthetic values, compassion resides in its pages.

  • Ruth
    2018-12-12 14:37

    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.

  • Judy
    2018-12-06 16:18

    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 most intense books I have ever read, Desert takes place in North Africa in two different time periods. The first is the very early 1900s when many tribes, deprived of their homes and lands by European colonialists, are on a desperate march through the desert to a promised land prophesied by their most revered religious leader, Water of the Eyes. This doomed endeavor is seen through the eyes of Nour, a young boy whose family has joined the march.Lalla is a young girl being raised in a shantytown near a coastal city in Morocco during the late 20th century. She is a descendant of Water of the Eyes, orphaned at birth. When the aunt that is raising her tries to arrange a marriage to an older man, Lalla runs away into the desert with her most beloved friend, a deaf mute goat herder. Later she and her aunt end up as immigrants in Marseilles, eking out a miserable existence in the most depressing area of this modern city.The power of this book comes from Le Clezio's writing. For example, his account of a religious ceremony held with the natives and their spiritual leader awakes in the reader every impulse for spiritual freedom that mankind has ever had.The immensity and harsh beauty of the desert, its sand dunes, wind, burning sun and frigid nights, is a continuous presence throughout the story as well as a symbol of both the devastation of these characters and their deepest love.Never again will I be able to read a novel which romanticizes immigrant life and poverty. In fact, the value of reading the literature of Europe and Asia is its ability to penetrate our very American refusal or inability (I am not sure which it is) to comprehend the hopeless misery and yet the essential strength of the dispossessed peoples of this earth; these victims of greed and "progress."If there is any chance at all that mankind do a better job of living together, it would have to start with the so-called winners taking a good look at how the so-called losers are created.

  • Ana Carvalheira
    2018-11-18 08:44

    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 estratégia geopolítica que traria, sobretudo, enormes vantagens económicas aos povos ocidentais.E a história começa, precisamente, com um ato de fé e esperança de um povo que, para escapar à insidiosa ocupação, abandona as suas terras para fazer uma travessia num deserto inóspito, dilacerante onde a fome e a doença surgiam, espectrais, a cada momento, para alcançar a cidade santa de Smara, morada do xeque Ma El Ainine que saberia conduzir o seu povo para Norte, para lá das montanhas do Draa onde haveria água e terra para todos. Paralelamente a esta narrativa, vamos nos apropriando de uma outra realidade, desta feita fictícia mas que poderia, com certeza, configurar, também ela, uma verdade histórica: somos apanhados na rede da existência Lalla, uma jovem magrebina, órfã de pai e mãe e que cresceu com uma tia na Cidade, onde as cabanas são feitas de tábuas e papel alcatroado para impedir a destruidora força do vento. Lalla cresceu nas dunas, em frente ao mar, numa profunda comunhão com o deserto, com as montanhas, com as serpentes e os escorpiões e com um único amigo, Hartami, um jovem surdo-mudo, personagem também ela extremamente solitária por quem nutre uma profunda amizade. “Quando são dias tristes, dias de angústia, a única pessoa que lhe resta é Hartani e esse nem precisa de palavras. Basta um olhar e ele sabe dar pão e tâmaras sem nada pedir em troca. Ele até prefere que se conservem a alguns passos de distância, como fazem as cabras e as ovelhas, que nunca pertencem completamente a ninguém”. Por um impulso, Lalla decide partir para Marselha. Grávida de Hartami, a jovem decide tentar recuperar algum ânimo numa cidade que lhe é completamente estranha e intransigente com as dimensões do seu ser, habituado a andar descalço, a correr pelas dunas, a deleitar-se com um céu ricamente estrelado onde, com a ponta do dedo, se poderia acender uma estrela. Mas o silêncio da fome, do medo e, sobretudo, da solidão, levam a que Lalla regresse às origens, apesar de, embora não soubesse ler nem escrever, a sua beleza tenha cativado um fotógrafo que viu, essencialmente na luz que emanava, a alma de bronze da jovem. Por esse facto, torna-se quase uma figura ilustre, requisitada por revistas e jornais da moda que nela viam um rosto simples mas ao mesmo tempo exótico, exatamente o género de que a imagética social necessitava. Mas ainda assim, Lalla sente o forte apelo das suas origens e volta para dar à luz, sozinha, como em tempos fizera a sua mãe, na sua terra, nas suas dunas, junto à sua figueira, perto do mar e com o céu estrelado como testemunha.É uma história de uma beleza única, sem dúvida! Mas o que mais me tocou, foi a prosa soberba de Le Clézio! Não há um único momento em que não sorrimos, que não nos comovemos ou que não nos emocionamos com a sua escrita. É, de facto, impressionante! A descrição dos rigores da vida no deserto, a morte de milhares de homens, mulheres, crianças e animais por força da fome, da doença, da guerra é algo que não nos deixa incólumes, muito por força da forma como Le Clézio nos mostra, na sua crueldade, todas as vicissitudes de um povo que procura, através de uma longa caminhada, uma vida mais digna do que aquela ameaçada pelos soldados estrangeiros, cristãos.Conhecemos o desenlace mas escrito pela forte imaginação e capacidade de descrição de Le Clézio, tudo toma uma outra aura: “Não tinham mais nada senão o que os seus olhos viam, o que os seus pés tocavam. À frente deles, a terra muito plana, estendia-se como o mar, cintilante de sal. Ondulava, criava as suas cidades brancas, com muralhas magníficas, com cúpulas que rebentavam como bolhas. O sol queimava-lhes a cara e as mãos, a luz causava vertigem, quando as sombras dos homens são iguais a poços sem fundo”.Percebo agora porque os membros da Academia Sueca decidiram atribuir, em 2008, o prémio Nobel da Literatura a este extraordinário autor francês!

  • Shanmugam
    2018-12-08 16:18

    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 the relentless storm. He was never the same in winters after that incident. We have had unpleasant moments and memories, but they were never to the extreme of unbearable. And of course, I never have to dwell in metro's filth everyday as a higher middle-class person. J M G Le Clezio's Desert present those extremes to me.Desert has two loosely coupled plots of untamed spirits of the descendants of a desert tribe, interwoven till the end. One part of the story follows a caravan of nomadic Berber tribes traveling northwards across the Sahara desert, led by the Tuareg, "Men in blue", the last freemen fleeing from the Soldiers of Christians. It is a fictionalized version of Ma el Ainine's 1909 - 1910 insurgency against French colony, narrated/observed through the eyes of Nour, a coming-of-age boy.Major part of novel is the story of Lalla, an orphan girl growing in 'the Project', across the river from an unnamed Moroccan town. And, her short stint in modern Marseille. Time of the story is not mentioned, could be guessed as 1970s. Waves of dunes, rugged hills, blazing sun, white light, high plateaus and intimate mythical connectedness of an individual's soul to the land are elaborated in this part. This part contains some beautifully crafted passages I have never read before, such as the wandering of Lella on an unchartered high plateau - on the night the wind of ill fortune flows on the Project, her wanderings in the filth and coastal parts of Marseille etc., Sure, Lella's rags to riches progress in Marseille is unrealistic, guess it gives a kind of depth to the character.The prose is poetical, descriptions are beautiful. The English translation is flawless, from a reader's perspective for whom English is only a second language. Worthy read!

  • Louise
    2018-11-20 14:38

    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 not realistic. She can walk alone, talk with men, have a temper tantrum on her first day of work and walk out on marriage contract which was, no doubt, negotiated at some cost. While she may have been from a tribe of "free men", I doubt that women had this degree of autonomy. Once she gets to France, her French language skills (not mentioned as is her illiteracy) and her rise to fame while pregnant are pretty fantastic. Her lack of planning for her baby may be meant to define her as one of the tribe of the "last free men", but it doesn't ring true. While the novel is meant to be representational, it should parallel something approaching real life.It may be the fault of the translator, but words such as "hunger" and "terrified" are overused such that they lose their meaning. Not that the people in this book aren't hungry and terrified, it's that more creative description is expected from a Nobel Laureate.Some of the dialog doesn't match the characters, the most egregious example being on p. 115, where Naman, the fisherman, says in his tale, "The celestial music resounded throughout the forest." Naman had traveled outside of the desert, but he had not been portrayed as an educated man as implied by his choice of words.There are parts and pages where the writing shows the skill of the author, but on the whole, neither the writing nor the development of the story suggests a Nobel quality artist.

  • Monica Carter
    2018-12-01 09:23

    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 that moves like the Earth’s rotation. A pace that you know is happening but don’t notice. He begins the novel telling the story of Nour, fourteen year old boy who is part of a North African people, the Taureg, more commonly referred to as the blue men because of the sky blue robes that they wear to honor the father of their people. In 1909, the French Colonialists are forcing the blue men out of their native land and into an aimless horrifying journey through the desert, led by their frail spiritual leader, Ma al-Aïnine. From the onset of the novel, there is the presence of an unnamed character, which is the Earth itself and all it’s natural elements. Throughout the novel, we learn Nour has a family – parents, sisters and brothers – and we learn of his staid character, his generous and loyal nature. But mostly he is the observer, the eyes we see through as we watch this Berber tribe lose their land, their leader and their hope to ward off the superior warring efforts of the Christians. Although, it’s the Earth that is just as prominent in the narrative being equal parts friend and enemy, and becoming a major character that only has allegiance to itself. The Earth shows no favoritism. She provides food and water to sustain them yet also tortures them with unrelenting rugged terrains and a scorching sun that dehydrates and destroys. Nour observes the toll of the journey and the effect of the elements on his people:Standing by the side of the trail, he saw them walking slowly past, hardly lifting their legs, heavy with weariness. They had emaciated gray faces, eyes shiny with fever. Their lips were bleeding; their hands and chests were marked with wounds where the clotted blood had mixed with golden particles of dust. The sun beat down on them as it did on the red stones of the path, and they received a real beating. The women had no shoes, and their bare feet were burned form the sand and eaten away wit the salt. But the most painful thing about them,the most disquieting thing that made pity rise in Nour’s breast, was their silence. Not one of them spoke or sang. No one cried or moaned. The close third person point-of-view by Le Clézio makes it difficult for us to not feel the effects of the sun, the scorching ground under our feet, the utter exhaustion that Nour and his people must endure. To combat complete fatigue of the reader, he introduces Lalla, a young girl living in the slums of Tangier as a descendant of the blue men. This is where nature becomes cleansing,vivifying and spiritual. Lalla does not go to school. She does not read or write. Instead she wonders her countryside jumping dunes, laying on the white sand and running along with the wind, breathing in its rhythm and essence. She lets the sun edify her, erasing her hunger and loneliness, inhaling it as if it were the source of life itself. She befriends flies and wasps, recognizing their role in the cycle of life and she finds comfort and solitude in the sea and the freedom it offers. But the voice is still murmuring, still fluttering inside of Lalla’s body. It is only the voice of the wind, the voice of the sea, of the sand, voice of the light that dazzles and numbs people’s willpower. It comes at the same time as the stranger’s gaze, it shatters and uproots everything on earth that resists it. The in goes farther out, toward the horizon, gets lost out at sea on the mighty waves, it carries the clouds and the sand toward the rocky coasts on the other side of the sea, toward the vast deltas where the smokestacks of the refineries are burning.Lalla lives with her Aunt Aamma. Lalla’s parent died when she was young and what she knows of them is through Aamma. Lalla has friends like the shepherd boy, the Hartani, who does not speak and the fisherman, Naman, who regales her stories of all the places where he has traveled. There is al-Ser, which stands for the Secret, a spirit she visits in the middle of the desert who fills her with an overwhelming sense of well-being and becomes her spiritual guide. After an attempt by her aunt to arrange a marriage for her, Lalla leaves with the Hartani to escape her destiny. The Hartani and Lalla become separated and Lalla ends up months later in Marseilles, where her aunt has already situated herself in one of the immigrant tenement housing projects. Lalla finds work and befriends a gypsy teenager, Radicz, who steals for a living. She is thrust in the eye of the public as the ethnic model, Hawa, after a photographer spots her in a café and she becomes his muse. She goes through life like the wind, without a true purpose, flowing in any direction that pulls her. But the freedom and solitude that nature offers her are the only real things that compel her to thrive. Eventually she returns to Tangier to give birth to the son of the Hartani in the vast landscape of Morocco with its promise of peace and independence. Le Clézio facilely creates the symbiotic relationship between the Taureg and nature. Lalla and Nour listen to the earth for answers, sustenance and portents. The wind, the sun and the sea do not control their lives, but they pulse within their blood and live within their hearts. This is what Le Clézio gives to the global readership, a perspective of a people that roamed the desert in search of their own land and their own traditions. But the hunger for power slowly wipes clean the slate of ethnic diversity. Desert is Le Clézio’s effort to give voice to the people who spoke through their journeys and through their respect for nature and through their silence, he makes hear how much they deserve a place on this Earth.

  • Helena K.
    2018-11-18 16:29

    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’il tisse ces deux histoires, Le Clézio fait le récit historique de l’invasion chrétienne-européenne du Sahara Occidental et du Maroc, de l’extermination du peuple du désert et de la soumission à laquelle ils ont été contraints, au nom de la raison économique. En parallèle, un autre contexte historique est établi, celui de l’Europe du sud à la fin du 20ème siècle par rapport aux immigrants. La pauvreté, l’abandon, la saleté, la violence, la criminalité, l’indifférence sont découverts pour ceux qui arrivent à Marseille à la recherche de quelque chose qui leur a été enlevée: un endroit pour vivre.C’est ainsi que l’histoire du jeune Nour, 100 ans auparavant, montrera pourquoi la jeune fille Lalla vit dans un bidonville, entre le désert et la mer en Afrique du Nord, où les maisons sont de bois et de papier goudronné. Alors que Nour erre dans le désert avec son peuple et les guerriers bleus, chassés par les Espagnols et les Français, il observe les rites religieux et les croyances des gens en quête de survie. Lalla s’est également livrée aux traditions musulmanes dans son village, même si son lien est plus fort avec les forces du désert, du sable, des pierres, de la lumière et de la chaleur qui brûlent sa peau, qui remplissent son corps.Autant dans le récit de la vie de Nour et de son peuple nomade que dans celui de Lalla, le texte est parsemé d’une poésie descriptive intense et multisensorielle, qui passe du toucher aux odeurs, du cri au silence, de la douleur à la paix, de la vérité jusqu’au nihilisme. Les impressions de l’environnement, les sensations éprouvées par les personnages imprègnent la lecture, renforcées par la répétition constante utilisée à dessein par l’auteur. À travers le point de vue des deux enfants, cependant, pas de jugements. C’est presque une vision d’enfant, candide, de sorte que l’histoire est racontée sans positions politiques, religieuses, mais qui ne manque pas de dénoncer la triste réalité d’un peuple.Une des facettes intéressantes de ce livre, qui a donné à l’auteur le prix Nobel de littérature en 2008, est d’apporter un morceau de l’histoire du Sahara Occidental, si peu présente et si peu connue. Le Sahara Occidental est l’un des quelques territoires non autonomes dans le monde. Ce pays, qui ne peut même pas être appelé pays, vit entre l’hégémonie du Maroc et de l’Algérie après avoir été abandonné par les Espagnols dans la misère et être passé entre les mains de plusieurs nations. La misère d’aujourd’hui est la misère laissée par ceux qui ont profité de la richesse, ont causé la mort et la douleur, ont pris ce qu’ils pouvaient pour leur pays et ont finalement quitté le désert, laissant derrière une totale désolation. Le moment présent n’est rien de plus que la continuation de nombreux moments historiques, y compris celui dans lequel les autochtones ont été rendus et massacrés par les chrétiens.À travers les yeux de Nour, nous voyons l’histoire d’un peuple en caravane, misérable, qui essaye jusqu’au dernier moment de garder sa vie, mais à la fin ne peut rien contre la force des armes de l’Europe: "Debout au bord de la piste, il les voyait marcher lentement, levant à peine leurs jambes alourdies par la fatigue. Ils avaient des visages gris, émaciés, aux yeux qui brillaient de fièvre. Leus lèvres saignaient, leurs mains et leur poitrine étaient marquées de plaies où le sang caillé s’était mêlé à l’or de la poussière. Le soleil frappait sur eux, comme sur les pierres rouges du chemin, et c’étaient des vrais coups qu’ils recevaient."Ainsi est le désert qui tue, qui brutalise, qui intimide, qui assèche le corps, et qui à la fois fascine Lalla. Héritière des hommes et des femmes du désert, elle trouve dans le caillou, dans le sable sec et déchirant, dans les épines, le refuge du bidonville où elle habite. Là, en sentant la chaleur pénétrer son corps, en écoutant les animaux et les insectes, en laissant la lumière envahir ses yeux, Lalla peut entrer en communication avec ses ancêtres et avoir la force de s’échapper, aller à Marseille, la ville qui a été décrite plusieurs fois par son ami, un vieux pêcheur. Dans les rues du Panier, Lalla vivra en compagnie de gens de la rue et des immigrés méprisés, et va aussi sentir l’odeur repoussante de la maladie, la mort, la misère, la crasse. Toutefois, il est toujours agréable de voir la description de Lalla de cette vie qui bat en Marseille. Pendant qu’elle retrace son parcours à travers le Vieux-Port et le Panier, viennent à l’esprit la couleur, la lumière, les vibrations de cette ville. Dans chaque escalier, petite rue, il y a une vie qui est réelle, imparfaite, mais réelle. La ville se montre, toutefois, une grande ville qui peut finir par écraser ses habitants et qui fait penser Lalla au désert.Malgré un début de lecture laborieux, pas habituée à des descriptions complexes et répétitives de Le Clézio, je me suis trouvée enchantée par le chemin des deux enfants et la sagesse avec laquelle un morceau d’histoire de l’Afrique est décrit. Il y a dans le texte une façon de ne pas révéler la réalité directement ou clairement. Nous percevons, soupçonnons, jusqu’à ce qu’au cours d’un autre événement, nous apprenions enfin la vérité… Il y a aussi beaucoup de subtilité, de pureté, mais qui sont capables d’animer la révolte contre l’injustice, contre la guerre. Celui qui fait la fusion de tous ces sentiments ne peut qu’être un grand auteur, d’un grand livre.

  • Rosana
    2018-11-19 10:33

    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).[image error]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 also requires the same patience and attention. Readers who crave plot should be warned that this is probably not a book for you. Le Clezio is a master of description. The desert, a slum in Morocco and the streets of Marseille all comes alive, but their hues and smells and the people populating them take shape slowly and hazily. At times I had to force myself to read the pages and pages of description – the western reader in me wanting to jump the long repetitive paragraphs – but there was such great reward when I got to abandon myself into Le Clezio’s imaginary.If I stay with the idea of painting with words, I would say that Le Clezio is an impressionist painter at that. There is not much definition in the images, and one should discard rationalization and let feelings/impressions guide the experience of reading this book.His writing reminded me of, the also Nobel Prize winner, Kawabata. They share the same lyric quality, and write in a form beyond plot, where the character’s actions and their surrounding environment convey more than dialogue and story line. Yet, there is something that I want to call “magic realism” on LeClezio’s writing. I hate to say it because “magic realism” seems overused to me. It is perhaps a “magic realism” closer to Salman Rushdie than Garcia Marquez, but I cannot find other form of describing it. I will attempt to read other books by Le Clezio, but I probably will wait a while. If Desert is a sample of how he writes, he is an author that demands a certain mood and commitment from his reader. He is not meant to be read in 20 minute allotments, while waiting for the kids’ dentist appointments or rushed before going to bed. I will plan for a summer weekend when I can read without interruptions for hours on end. I should be ready for it then...

  • Lada
    2018-12-03 08:36

    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 comme un va et vient, du passe au present, de l'histoire du tribu de desert, d'un point tournant a leur vie, ou elle traverse le desert, guide par leur chef spirituel religieux, dans un essai impossible d' arreter le changement commence par une modernisation colonial. Une epreuve surhumaine, un mythe d'origine qui se revele un desastre mais portant en lui une lueur d'espoir quoique faible et qui aidera les survivants jeunes a suivre et faire attendre le temps d'assumer leur destin propreLe moment present relate l'histoire d'une jeune fille, descendante de la tribu, la jeune Lalla qui orpheline et fille de desert mene une vie toute a son interieur vivant dans une bidovville e avec sa tante et sa famille est attiree par le secret du desert et les histoire de sa tribu et de son ancetre. La bas elle prend connaissance de la force de l'identite face a la terre et au territoire aide par un double a lui jeune garcon sourd-muet, Hartani, et un peu medjnoun, etre venu de nulle part, pose au bord d-un puits par un guerrier du desert et il enseigne Lalla l'amour de desert et comme l'amour de son prochain et pareil de L'Autre. Separe de lui dans un parcours a travers desert et venue en ville Lalla traverse son desert spirituel en memme temps et a travers le traversee par le Bateau et a Marseille puis a Paris elle reussit a garder sa foi et sa religiosite de tribu du a son eneignement du desert qui luia enseigne les vraies valeurs. Elle quitte cette vie contemporaine pour donner naissance a la fille, sa fille et la fille de Harnani, son eoux spirituel, son double, son ami de desert. Elle donne naissance a sa fille un matin sous un figuier come tant de femmes traditionnelles de sa tribu.

  • Louisa
    2018-12-11 16:20

    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 of Smara in the Western Sahara and called for a holy war to drive out the French and the Spanish colonists who were occupying the water holes on which the nomads depended for their existence. Through the eyes of Nour, we see how the nomad families are driven from their lands by hunger and thirst, towards the coast of Morocco; how Ma El Aïnin's army of 'blue men of the desert' is crushed by the French forces and how they, defeated though they are, turn back toward their home, toward the south, toward the place where no one else could live.Lalla is a descendent of Nour's tribe, a little orphaned girl who is fascinated by the creatures of the desert; the insects, the ants, even the flies. In the shade of a tall fig tree, she listens to the stories told to her by an old fisherman about her ancestors, and about places and cities far away, in the north. Fleeing to escape an early marriage, Lalla makes the journey to France, where she discovers that life in the city isn't quite as beautiful as the old fisherman had led her to believe. When she finally returns to her fig tree in the desert, it is as if she had never left.Le Clézio doesn't judge, but throughout the narrative it is clear where his sympathies lie: not with the European colonists in North Africa (the "Christians", as the people from the desert call them - but isn't their true religion money?) but with the desert itself and the people who call it their land.

  • Andrew
    2018-11-16 16:30

    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 you've seen before in countless Nouvelle Vague films. A Moroccan slum-daughter in origins, perhaps, but with all the mope of a Parisienne. Again, fine by me.The ending... less fine. In fact, it was an abrupt anti-climax. But this doesn't detract that much from the quality of the book as a whole. This is largely because right before the bum ending, there is a scene where Lalla sort-of-but-not-really returns to the desert that is one of the most shimmering, pitch-perfect pieces of prose I've ever read. It alone makes the entire book worth reading.

  • Jesse K
    2018-12-07 09:21

    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 his books seemed to be a sort of mad scream about something awful whereas Desert seemed to be an actual attempt to depict that which so horrified the author. In the first 7 he pulled out all of the pyrotechnic literary tricks, whereas he did more with less in Desert. I can't objectively say which style of his is better. His first 7 books blew my mind. Desert made me cry. Take from that what you will. Either way, they're all worth reading.

  • Amélia
    2018-12-08 16:16

    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 really different you have no problem in telling when you switch story. I'm left with a bittersweet feeling as I close this book. I've traveled, I've thought about a lot of things, and the end feel bitter to me.It was a really moving book, that made me thought about how perceptions can differ depending on where we were born, and how we're raised, what virtues are taught to us et cetera.

  • Suraj Alva
    2018-12-04 12:19

    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 language} itself.

  • Ben Winch
    2018-11-23 16:25

    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 the result is tedious and empty. Or so it seems to me.

  • Dolors
    2018-12-12 08:39

    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 the traditional sense, you won't be very satisfied with the experience.There's a plot to follow, but sometimes great important facts seem to be omitted whereas details such as the smell of the sand or the texture of some clothes or the warm and salty water of a particular beach are described for pages and pages.You have to feel more than to read this novel.It reminded me of Woolf's writing style, dense, subtle, elegant and poetic.Not for everybody.

  • Zeina
    2018-12-08 11:30

    L'ouvrage de Le Clézio se compose de deux récits. L'un se déroule dans le désert. Il évoque la migration des hommes bleus. Le désert reste pour eux "le seul, le dernier pays libre oú les lois d'hommes n'avaient plus d'importance". Le héros de ce récit doit être nour, l'adolescent qui a reçu la bénédiction du saint homme appelé l'eau des yeux ou maa' elaynin.Le second récit se situe au maghreb puis à marseille. Lalla est l'héroïne maintenant.elle refuse toutes les compromissions dans lesquelles on voudrait l'enfermer (mariage, misère, célébrité,argent) . Elle est à la fois volontaire et rêveuse.Bref, DEsert est le poème de l'espérance et de la misère. Un vrai chef d'œuvre.

  • Isabelle
    2018-11-29 12:31

    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
    2018-12-11 15:40

    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.

  • Igor
    2018-11-14 12:23

    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
    2018-11-23 14:26

    بخش لالا کتاب بهتر بود بنظرمبخش نور، یه جوری بود، نمی شد زیاد درکش کردنوبل 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 بیشترالبته در کل کتاب خوبیهبا طرز تفکرهای شبیه لالا خیلی حال می کنم!!‏

  • Aaron Cance
    2018-11-18 15:21

    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.

  • Oxana Gutu
    2018-11-19 10:32

    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. The story’s two main characters are a boy, Nour, and a girl, Lala. It is such a beautiful story that I read it every time I wanted to escape the daily routine. Lala takes you places. I loved to read it on my flights back home and to be mentally in the places Lala took me and see what she saw from the harshness of the desert to the brutality of the streets of Marseille inhabited by the once nomadic by lifestyle or spirit people, and further to the glamorous life of the most photographed face. At times, Lalla’s silent pain and suffering are hard to read about. It is also symbolic for a group of people affected by colonisation and its consequences.Desert signAs if harshness breeds love, Lala, also called Hawa, who cannot write, adopted a small heart as her signature. This sign you’ll find on the books’ page adds to the symbolic heights this books takes you to. Lala, also called Hawa, is a gift of love. If you try to find out who she is her answers will teach you a thing or two on humbleness. Le Clezio amazed me with the pallet of styles he interchanges smoothly, softly, delightfully. I loved the book as it created a refuge for me from daily noise. I was almost upset, when the story took the turn of war and fights. The fight between the ever symbolic good and evil, “civilised” and those whom they call “fanatic”, a general and a desert warrior. The author gives his perspective on the beginning of 20th century events in North Africa. Le Cezio is tough on those who call themselves Christians. Is money their true religion, he asks. As if hunger, wariness, sickness and despair were not enough, natives had to be massacred and had to see their leader die, alone, abandoned, denied and forgotten. This book left a bitter-sweet taste and a desire to read more by Le Clezio, the French writer with Mauritian origins.

  • Grady Ormsby
    2018-11-24 09:24

    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 policies exerted by the bankers, politicians and militarists in the name of righteousness, nationalism, patriotism and progress. “On one side, the sea, on the other, the desert. The horizons are closing in on the people of Smara, the last nomads are surrounded. Hunger, thirst, are hemming them in, they’re beset with fear, illness, defeat.” Set in a more contemporary time frame, the second narrative is the story of Lalla, an orphaned descendent of the Blue Men. She flees her shantytown home in coastal Morocco in order to escape an arranged marriage. In Marseilles as a hotel maid and later as a fashion model, Lalla experiences the full range of culture shock and immigrant displacement. Indeed, the colonies have been “liberated,” but the injustice, intolerance, and deprivation of colonialism goes on. One should not let the depressing subject matter of Desert be a reason to avoid it. The writing is mesmerizing. With just the wind, the sand, the ocean, the sun, the sky and the clouds, LeClezio creates a setting that is often surreal and other-worldly. There is an aura of spirituality reminiscent of Carlos Castaneda. There is also the hopeful conclusion for Lalla as she returns to the home of the Blue Man, the one she calls al-Ser, the Secret. It is his gaze that drives out the pain and the fever. “It is all around her, out into infinity, the shimmering, undulating desert, showers of sparks, the slow wave of dunes inching into the unknown.” J.M.G LeClezio was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature for his life's work, as an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

  • David R. Godine
    2018-11-25 16:19

    "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 citation described, to explore "a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." Beneath his pantheism and ethnology, there is also a serious critic of contemporary Western civilization and its rationalism, pointing out the conflict between nature and cities, the disconnect between man and mythology."— Elizabeth Hawes, The New York Times Book Review"When French writer Le Clezio was presented with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008, the response of many Americans was, Who? That's because so few of his stunning works have been translated into English, including this 1980 fever dream of a novel about earth and spirit, war and exile. In poetic language at once piercingly realistic and rhapsodically supernatural, Le Clezio tells the dramatic stories of two mystical, resilient children of the North African desert, members of a nomadic tribe of warriors. Nour endures a horrific forced march across the desert just prior to World War I, as French soldiers invade and a holy sheik struggles to keep the planet's last free people free. Decades later, Lalla, a shantytown seer channeling the hidden life force of the forbidding desert, is forced to flee Morocco for Marseilles, where she witnesses the misery of other despised immigrants. In scenes of shimmering intensity, Le Clezio contrasts nature's stark and majestic clarity, from scouring sand to the incinerating sun and the vast gleaming net of stars, with the chaos, toxicity, and injustice of human life. A long time coming for English-language readers, Le Clezio's incandescent masterpiece couldn't be more relevant."— Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

  • Louisa
    2018-12-08 16:18

    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 of Smara in the Western Sahara and called for a holy war to drive out the French and the Spanish colonists who were occupying the water holes on which the nomads depended for their existence. Through the eyes of Nour, we see how the nomad families are driven from their lands by hunger and thirst, towards the coast of Morocco; how Ma El Aïnin's army of 'blue men of the desert' is crushed by the French forces and how they, defeated though they are, turn back toward their home, toward the south, toward the place where no one else could live.Lalla is a descendent of Nour's tribe, a little orphaned girl who is fascinated by the creatures of the desert; the insects, the ants, even the flies. In the shade of a tall fig tree, she listens to the stories told to her by an old fisherman about her ancestors, and about places and cities far away, in the north. Fleeing to escape an early marriage, Lalla makes the journey to France, where she discovers that life in the city isn't quite as beautiful as the old fisherman had led her to believe. When she finally returns to her fig tree in the desert, it is as if she had never left.Le Clézio doesn't judge, but throughout the narrative it is clear where his sympathies lie: not with the European colonists in North Africa (the "Christians", as the people from the desert call them - but isn't their true religion money?) but with the desert itself and the people who call it their land.

  • Aziza
    2018-12-01 14:42

    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 witnesses the negotiations of his and other Tuareg tribes under the leadership of the legendary tribal chief Ma el Ainine with the French around 1910, and Lalla, an orphaned Berber girl living in a shanty seaside town in the more recent past. The reader follows Nour and his people through their loss of land and pride to the French as well as Lalla’s progress from a poor, country girl in Morocco to a top model in an urban, unsafe France and back to the Sahara where she gives birth to her first child.The spiritual development of Lalla and Nour, while both being forced into less healthy environments and circumstances, links them. The reason I recommend this novel, however, are neither the plot nor maturation of the protagonists, but Lalla’s dreams of her heritage personified in Es Ser, “the Secret One,” an imaginary lover embodying the ancient desert tribe from which Lalla hails. Shimmering sun and Sahara sand become a visual poem transcending the urban chaos Lalla’s fellow shanty-dwellers long for. The measured, somewhat repetitive rhythm of Le Clézio’s words hypnotize readers, rocking them back and forth like the slow movements of a camel tracking through the endless and unforgiving expanse of the cruel and beautiful desert. A mesmerizing, haunting book, which made me go see the Sahara for myself. Merci Monsieur Le Clézio!

  • Garryvivianne
    2018-12-10 12:22

    Author JMG Le Clezio is a winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. His book Desert is beautifully written. It starts out with a caravan of the "Blue Men". I don't believe I remember seeing anywhere in the book that they are named as the Taurag nomads which they are. Their journeys are almost hopeless in the harsh and desolate environs. They have always lived in the desert, they have always been free. They have been promised fertile lands in Morrocco. The time of this journey all ties in with the French colonization. The Blue Men caravan includes one Nour, a young boy, who through him, we observe as he does. They stop when they are tired, they stop to eat, sleep & tell stories of their people. Later, they are just trying to protect their lands from the "soldiers of the Christians". The story goes back & forth, timewise also, (Nour's story is around the 1900's). Nour's story & journeys; and Lalla's story, her story, many generations later. Lalla, is a young girl who lives in a poor shanty town. She is a child of the desert also. In fact, you somehow think that Nour & Lalla might surely be related. She wanders off & visits with a fisherman who she likes because he tells her stories. And she goes into the desert where she meets a mysterious desert man, Hartani, a shepherd who only comes around when she feels she really needs him. He never speaks to her, but they can understand each other.I am not sure I liked Lalla leaving the desert & her shanty town & her few friends to go to Paris. Of course, she leaves when she knows they are going to marry her off. I did not enjoy this part of Lalla's story. Her life belonged to the desert. I was happy that she went back to her place in life.

  • Christy
    2018-11-16 14:19

    BLUF: If this wasn't part of a reading challenge I never would have pressed on past 15%. If the first 80% were removed entirely this book would not suffer, and in fact might benefit. The author's descriptions of scenes are gorgeous, but that can only take you so far without a good plot. This is the first of the Nobel Prize winners that did not suit me at all. The pacing is terrible! There are long unnecessary repetitious phrases like "Al Ser-the one she called The Secret" peppered throughout, long lists of Berber tribal names and scenes that take 10% of the book to describe but do not contribute to anything more than mood setting. Grateful to move on from this one, and happy to say I made it thru! The rest of this is spoilers, proceed on at your own risk. This book touches constantly on the miraculous without anchoring long enough to make it believable. 1) Why does the main character see Al Ser? It's never explained, or it's too subtle for me. If she believes in Islam so strongly she sees a Muslim saint in visions routinely, why does she not believe in the parts western society disapproves of (forced marriage to a good match). 2) For that matter, why doesn't Lalla appear to give a crap about anything?? Rags to riches but she throws it all away to give birth in a slum that will shun her for having no husband. A slum whose beliefs and values she rejected earlier. Her motivation for not accepting her typical lot in life is never revealed in a believable way, in fact she just seems to drift from place to place having things occur to her without engaging at all. 3)Why have Nour's story line at all? It never ties together in a satisfactory way for me. At this point I don't even think he is related to Lalla, he's just a random very young follower of her grandfather?