View Full Version : J.M.G. Le Cl?zio: Onitsha
Onitsha by JMG Le Clezio. Very beautifuly written and with a haunting, powerful story to tell about the devastation wrought in Africa by succesive waves of colonialism (imperial and then corporate). It's seen through the eyes of a young European boy who goes to live in the town of Onitsha in 1948, and to lesser extent his father, an oil company executive who is obsessed with uncovering the area's ancient history by tracking down myths and legends and his mother, who is not able to fit in with the colonial society of the town with its casual acceptance of 'native' slave labour. *****
Just finished the Bison Books (Alison Anderson) English translation of this.
A Mesmerizing read!
Lots of layers to the strikingly sonorous prose and a wonderful (to my ears) music to the language of Onitsha's places and inhabitants. Le Clezio weaves many layers into this seemingly simple narrative. Beneath the narrative's surface level, the motifs/ and Symbols- primal elemental images (Fire- the Sun, Water-the Niger River, the sea, the rain/ Air-thunder/lightning, Earth - the red mud (blood),) resonate the questing themes/sojourns as well as the understory of the myth of the journey of Meroe, the "Black Queen", which further refracts Geofrey's obsession with Onitsha's pre-history. Early in the the Onitsha section and again, later, the little city of "mud god's" that Fintan and Bony had made were disolved in the rain, foreshadoing and echoing the dissolution and destruction of the Colonial ideal. There be monsters lurking in these depths...
Someone posted somewhere its the Heart of Darkness in reverse. There are undoubted parallels, but that's a vast oversimplification. I can see a lot of possiblity for further excavatations in Onitsha....
I agree with Jayaprakash's stars...
A Very evocative, profound, and powerful story. Left me thirsting for more Le Clezio...
Definitely warrants a re-read. I have ordered Wandering Star and The Prospector, as that is about all that are available to me in English Translation.
A Mesmerizing read!
Agree with you , except for the initial 40 odd pages.
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