Nobel for literature goes to French writer

The Swedish Academy granted the 2008 Nobel Prize for literature to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, a broad-based and creative French novelist, children’s author and essayist viewed by many French readers and critics as one of the country’s greatest living writers.

Mr. Le Clézio’s work defies easy characterization, but in more than 40 essays, novels and children’s books, he has written of exile and self-discovery, of cultural dislocation and globalization, of the clash between modern civilization and traditional cultures. Having lived and taught in many parts of the world, he writes as fluently about North African immigrants in France, native Indians in Mexico and islanders in the Indian Ocean as he does about his own past.

“I am very happy, and I am also very moved because I wasn’t expecting this at all,” he said. “Many other names were mentioned, names of people for whom I have a lot of esteem. I was in good company. Luck or destiny, or maybe other reasons, other motives, had it so that I got it. But it could have been someone else.”

Le Clézio has been writing since age seven; his first work was a book about the sea. After majoring in French Literature, he became well-known at age 23 with the publication of his first novel, Le Procès-Verbal (The Interrogation), which was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt and for which he was awarded the Prix Renaudot in 1963.