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.
Jean-Marie Gustav Le Clezio was born in France, but his work has been defined by his life of travel around the world. Olivier Laban-Mattei/Getty Images hide caption
On the one hand, that might seem to support Engdahl's claims of American isolationism and insularity, but I'd suggest this unfamiliarity cuts both ways. How do we make the case for Le Clezio as representative of the best that literature has to offer when so many are unacquainted with his work?