On Thursday, the Swedish Academy announced the 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature–Mr. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Yet, who is this mysterious (at least, in the annals of the collective American consciousness) J.M.G. Le Clézio?
According to the NY Times:
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.
Mr. Le Clézio is not well known in the United States, where few of his books are available in translation, but he is considered a major figure in European literature and has long been mentioned as a possible laureate.
Sounds fancy and French.
Yet, as the article mentions, Mr. Le Clézio isn’t well known in the United States because we’re still in the 1700s and news and ideas just haven’t made it across the Atlantic Ocean. Or, at least that’s what the Nobel Prize committee seems to think.
There were rumors floating around the internet that J.D. Salinger would be the next Nobel Prize laureate–the first American laureate since Toni Morrison’s win in 1993. Yet, Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, says that the US “is too isolated, too insular” and doesn’t really “participate in the big dialogue of literature.” Maybe the Europeans are just to exclusive for us “Joe Six Pack” Americans. What are your thoughts?