Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2008
Born: 13 April 1940, Nice, France
Residence at the time of the award: France; Mauritius
Prize motivation: “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”
Prize share: 1/1
Jean-Marie Gustave le Clézio was born in Nice, France, but grew up on Mauritius, where his relatives had worked as bankers for generations. His father, a doctor, was of British heritage, and his family was bilingual. Le Clézio lived among indigenous peoples in Panama for several years during the 1970s; an experience that fundamentally changed his view of life, art, and people. He has also worked at several universities in different parts of the world. Le Clézio and his wife, Jemia, divide their time between Nice, Mauritius, and Albuquerque, USA.
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio's literary career highlights different cultures in different times and challenges Western civilization's dominance. He questions modern society's materialistic superficiality, which chokes what is genuine in people's relationships with others, with nature, and with the past. Le Clézio, who writes in prose, has published over 40 works since his 1963 début. His major breakthrough came with Desert in 1980. With its flowing prose, Desert stands in contrast to his earlier works' more experimental style.