Books for the News, Literature

The Mexican Dream by JMG Le Clézio

jacket imageThe Swedish Academy announced today that French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio is the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Among the dozen works by Le Clézio translated into English, the University of Chicago Press published The Mexican Dream: Or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations. Unlike most of Le Clézio’s work, The Mexican Dream is nonfiction. “What motivated me,” Le Clézio said, “was a sort of dream about what has disappeared and what could have been.” Many dreams unfold in the book: the dream that was the religion of the Aztecs, the dream of the conquistadores, and a dream of the present—a meditation on the ways that Amerindian civilizations move the imaginations of Europeans.
The translator of The Mexican Dream is Teresa Lavender Fagan, who also works here at the Press. Teresa has this response to the news:

I am delighted—but not at all surprised!—that Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. When I read Le rêve mexicain—The Mexican Dream—for the first time, I was transported by Le Clézio’s language and message. The author imagined how the thought of early Indian civilizations might have evolved if not for the interruption of European conquest. And how our own civilization might have been different had we had the continued input of such advanced, now vanished, peoples. Those questions, and Le Clézio’s recounting of the Conquest in his beautiful, lyrical prose, truly transformed my view of Western civilization. It is an honor to have translated the book and to have worked with the author, a most deserving Nobel Prize winner.

An audio interview with Le Clézio is on the Nobel Prize website.