The Prospector is the crowning achievement from one of France’s preeminent contemporary novelists and a work rich with sensuality and haunting resonance. It is the turn of the century on the island of Mauritius, and young Alexis L’Etang enjoys an idyllic existence with his parents and beloved sister: sampling the pleasures of privilege, exploring the constellations and tropical flora, and dreaming of treasure buried long ago by the legendary Unknown Corsair. But with his father’s death, Alexis must leave his childhood paradise and enter the harsh world of privation and shame. Years later, Alexis has become obsessed with the idea of finding the Corsair’s treasure and, through it, the lost magic and opulence of his youth. He abandons job and family, setting off on a quest that will take him from remote tropical islands to the hell of World War I, and from a love affair with the elusive Ouma to a momentous confrontation with the search that has consumed his life. By turns harsh and lyrical, pointed and nostalgic, The Prospector is “a parable of the human condition” (Le Monde) by one of the most significant literary figures in Europe today.
Praise for The Prospector
Le Clezio, who is best known for his Prix Renaudot-winning first novel The Interrogation (1963), has created a gentle portrayal of a man haunted by visions of his ideal childhood.
Haunting and lyrical, this Bildungsroman of the narrator’s search for the lost treasure of the Corsair is near-mythic but has realistic details that bolster its plausibility. . . . Essential for academic and large public libraries.
Le Clezio, one of France’s finest writers (The Mexican Dream ), is an incantatory and dazzlingly visual novelist. Le Clezio brilliantly conveys the sublime and terrible beauty of life and its twin, death, in devastating evocations of the pulse of the sea, the blaze of the sun, the horrors of violence, and the miraculous lyricism of the mind. A remarkable work.
Often piercingly vivid, and poignant at the close.
[Le Clezio is] author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization.
—Nobel Prize Committee
The Prospector offers a wonderful one-volume compendium of all the grand myths rooted in the European colonial experience, combining elements from Paul et Virginie, Robinson Crusoe, and Indiana Jones. . . . Le Clezio has perfected a swift-moving, plain-speaking style, well served in this English translation.
—The Washington Post
An entertainment of the highest order that neither diminishes nor insults the intelligence and emotions of the reader.
Le Clézio’s prose is so sensual and rhythmic it’s hypnotic.
A novel of intense beauty.
—Review of Contemporary Fiction
A remarkable work.
—Booklist, starred review
BOOK GROUP RESOURCES
• Listen to NPR book critic Christopher Merill discuss The Prospector at “The World.”
• Sarah Lyall at The New York Times describes Le Clézio as an author “whose work reflects a seemingly insatiable restlessness and sense of wonder about other places and other cultures.”
• Read the 1985 review of The Prospector in The London Times.
• Read the Time Magazine feature on J.M.G. Le Clézio by Lev Grossman.
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