In awarding him the Nobel Prize in 2008, the Swedish Academy hailed J. M. G. Le Cl+¬zio as an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of humanity beyond and below the reigning civilisation.” The outlying humanity that Le Cl+¬zio explores in this collection of stories finds its expression in the understanding of children. The world of Mondo and Other Stories is that of a natural world pushed to the margins by complacent, indifferent modernity.
Haunting and beautiful, these stories speak to a universal longing for a life beyond the confines and trappings of modern existence. In each tale it is a child who can see and appreciate these places filled with wonder and knowledge. Mondo is a little boy whose connection to the beauty in everything unites a seaside town. Little Cross perturbs the order of things with her question: “What is blue? Daniel flees his stifling school and absent parents for the sea. All these children, like the wise billy goat in the collection’s final story, understand “so many things, not the things you find in books that men like to talk about but silent, strong things, things full of beauty and mystery.” And in the end, so do we.