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The Nobel Prize goes to a cosmopolite

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Oh, those Swedes! Today the Nobel literary committee (to quote the Independent) "infuriated the bookies, delighted the bookish and thumbed its nose, again, at the American book industry" by awarding the 2008 Nobel Prize for literature to half-British, half-French novelist and philosopher Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

(Of course, in truth, the American world of letters already felt snubbed when, last week, Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, suggested that US writers were too isolated and insular to merit a Nobel Prize.)

In selecting Le Clézio, the Nobel judges picked a true cosmopolite – albeit one with ties to the US. (He lives most of the year in Albuquerque, N.M.) Le Clézio, who is bilingual, was born in France to a Mauritian-born British doctor and his French wife. Le Clézio spent part of his childhood with his father in Africa and several years in the 1970s living with an Indian tribe in Panama. His wife, Jemia, is Moroccan.


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