Friday, October 10, 2008

Le Clézio Roundup

There has been plenty of press – as is to be expected – on yesterday's announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The New York Times describes laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio as an author "whose work reflects a seemingly insatiable restlessness and sense of wonder about other places and other cultures," and the Los Angeles Times supports that assessment with this quote from the author: "Western culture has become too monolithic. . . The entire unknowable part of the human being is obscured in the name of rationalism. It is my awareness of this that has pushed me towards other civilizations."

The Washington Post reports on the new Nobel-winner with one eye here at the states, "There was little joy among New York publishers at this year's Nobel news. With recent winners such as Britain's Doris Lessing and Turkey's Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel laureates' American publishers could count on cleaning up with increased sales of backlist titles. But no major publisher in this country since Atheneum, more than 30 years ago, has bothered with translations of Le Clézio's work. This left the celebrating to small publishers such as David Godine."

And at Publisher's Weekly you can get a quick glimpse into life here at Godine through this classic David Godine quote. "David R. Godine published The Prospector in 1993. An ebullient Godine recalled a walk among the booths at Frankfurt, where, he said, he asks the same question of most foreign publishes each year: Who are your great writers who aren’t in English? 'Anne-Marie Solange, at Gallimard – she’s always bitching that Americans don’t read French writers. So I asked her the question. She gave me three names – Sylvie Germain, Patrick Modiano and J.M.G. Le Clezio. I published all three, and for the right reasons. And now one pays off!' Godine said, 'I must’ve been on drugs' when he discovered he originally printed 6,000 copies of The Prospector, but was happy to find he had 500 copies in stock – all of them spoken for in a matter of hours after the Nobel announcement [almost—ed.]. The Boston-based house will go back to press for a paperback version, and has another Le Clézio book already in the works, Le Désert, due next year."

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