J. M. G. Le Clézio
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From the original Atheneum edition jacket, 1964.
"J.M.G. Le Clézio, revelation of the literary year" ran the headline of the Paris Express after last year's prizes had been awarded. The Goncourt jury was locked five to five until its president used his double vote to give the prize to the older candidate. Ten minutes later the Renaudot jury elected the candidate they thought they might lose to the other prize. Most of the literary sections ran their prize news putting the Renaudot first, in order to feature the twenty-three-year-old discovery that was rocking Paris literary circles.
What is The Interrogation? Most likely a myth without distinct delineations. A very solitary young man, Adam Pollo, perhaps the first man, perhaps the last, has a very remarkable interior adventure. He concentrates and he discovers ways of being, ways of seeing. He enters into animals, into a tree.... He has no business, no distractions; he is at the complete disposal of life. All of life, that is, except the society of his own species -- and so the story ends.
"This is the next phase after the 'the new novel,'" wrote the critics. Kafka they said; a direct descendant of Joyce, they said. Beckett they said. Like nothing else, they said. One hundred thousand Frenchmen bought it. They said it was strange and beautiful. Finally the real voice of the young, said the critics. "I like J. D. Salinger," said Mr. Le Clézio, and that was all he said. His remarkable first book will soon be published all over the world and much more will be said.