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Wandering Star (Lannan Translation Selection Series) Paperback – October 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Lannan Translation Selection Series
  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Curbstone Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931896119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931896115
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,957,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Internationally acclaimed French novelist Le Clezio is a bewitching storyteller with a penchant for tales of survival that are at once acutely realistic and mythically romantic. In his latest hauntingly lyrical yet clear-eyed and worldly novel, he tells the story of two young women uprooted by the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel. Esther and her parents are hiding from the Germans in a mountain village where the children run wild and grow strong while the adults risk their lives in the Resistance movement. Esther survives and, after much suffering, embarks on an arduous journey to Jerusalem. But as she and her fellow exhausted travelers finally near their promised land, they pass a stream of equally despairing, newly displaced refugees, among them Nejma, a Palestinian girl. Nejma then chronicles the misery of a gravely ill-provisioned camp and her heroic escape. Exquisitely attuned to nature's quest for balance and humanity's penchant for excess and paradox, Le Clezio writes with high compassion and deep wonder of the boundless strength of the spirit. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"...a must read for anyone that cares about anyone." -- WAV Magazine

"...a story about people and what happens to them in war and exile...a marvelous piece of literature." -- Jewish Book World

"By taking no sides, by showing the agony of all—he has produced a near masterpiece." -- Ralph Magazine

"Etoile errante [Wandering Star] can unquestionably be ranked among the very great novels." -- L'Humanité

"What Le Clézio accomplishes is a tapestry woven from images of despair and hope..." -- Bloomsbury Review

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Customer Reviews

I really hated when in ended.
Margy E. Katzeff
In fact, it gives the author the means for touching in a very subtle way on a range of personal and societal challenges faced by Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Friederike Knabe
Le Clezio is a gifted writer, and his dialogue and descriptions are beautiful to read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on September 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
The "wandering stars" are two young girls, each trying to escape from an oppressive, threatening condition. Esther is a Jewish girl who escapes from Nazi-occupied Europe to Israel. Nejma lives in a Palestinian refugee camp. The two girls' lives are not intertwined physically, but rather spiritually in how they both deal with similar feelings of fear, helplessness, and desire for a better life. Le Clezio, a French author of 20 novels, goes beyond politics, cultural differences, and historical moments to cast light on the universal feelings in experiences of suffering and the struggles, desires, and dreams growing out of such experiences.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nin Chan on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Having read some of Le Clezio's earliest work ("The Giants", "War", "Book of Flights", all of which I have also commented upon on Amazon), this book seems like a bit of an anomaly- it is, unlike the aforementioned troika, a sustained narrative written in a limpid, sober, hauntingly spare style. That early triumvirate (now reissued by the good folks at Vintage) is intent on undoing the frayed fabric of fiction, interrogating the repressed political motivations/ramifications of literature as an institution. "Wandering Star", by contrast, is in most respects a rather orthodox novel, save for the somewhat inexplicable shifts between an impersonal, omniscient narrative voice and first-person diary accounts. All of this, I suppose, can be attributed to the decades that separate said works- one can, by comparison, think of the trajectory that Foucault's career would assume with age (from the irreverent stylistic gymnastics of "Order of Things" to the austere, worldly-wise calm of "Care Of The Self").

Such surprises aside, I can, without reservation, affirm that "Wandering Star" is a tremendous feat. While being extraordinarily readable (I would imagine that most readers would be able to finish the novel in two sittings, if not one), it is incredibly suggestive and deeply compassionate, without being maudlin or overwrought. Access to a box of tissues is advised while you read this novel- there are moments of tremendous beauty and sadness. Beyond this, the sheer sensuality of the prose is comparable to the very best of Whitman, early Rimbaud, Camus (the texture and ambience of Esther's sunbaked narrative reminds me very much of "The First Man", Nejma's harrowing half invokes memories of "The Plague"), Gide, Lawrence, Li Bai and Lucretius.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Robinson on April 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
This was the first book that I had read by Le Clézio and I was impressed.
The novel features outstanding prose and a page turning story. Those elements are the central attractions for this beautifully written novel. It was written in French and translated by C. Dickson. Every page seems to bring some sort of literary delight.

The prose and the descriptions of nature remind one of Hemingway in the opening pages of Farewell to Arms, or George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. But unlike those classics where much of the memorable prose is at the start of the novel, the wonderful prose goes on and on like Flaubert but lighter.

"It was as if there had never been a summer before that one. The sun scorched the grasses in the fields, the stones in the torrent, and the mountain seemed so distant against the dark blue sky. Esther often walked down to the river, deep in the valley, ..."

Most will want to read the book, put it aside, and read it again later.
The opening chapters are wonderfully well written and the character Esther, who is the wandering star, is fascinating. She is a young Jewish girl caught up in the ethnic cleansing of World War II, who tries to escape and make her way to Israel.

As one reads the novel it seems perfect. However, the perfection seems somewhat diminished in the second half. Mainly, the story speeds up as we jump ahead in time, jumping decades near the end of the book. It starts to run a bit too fast for me. Overall, the story seems too short and as we near the end, the spell of a perfect novel is lost.

Most of the novel is about the character Esther, who is the primary character. The second character is introduced in the middle of the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
May 1948. The State of Israel has just been proclaimed. Two columns of refugees pass one another on a mountain road outside Jerusalem. One is a group of European Jews, now in trucks, nearing the end of their journey to the Holy City. The other, on foot, is a long straggling line of displaced Palestinians starting their own journey to nowhere. Briefly, the columns halt. A seventeen-year-old girl climbs down from her truck and comes face to face with another girl her own age. Their eyes meet. The Palestinian girl writes her name in a notebook, Nejma, and hands it over for the other to do the same: Esther. The columns move off in opposite directions.

It is a powerful image. Had the book jacket not made clear that this was to be the story of two women, it would have come as a surprise. For the first 200 pages have their own shape: the story of Esther's childhood in the French Alpes Maritimes, her narrow escape from the encroaching Holocaust, and her clandestine postwar emigration to Israel. Now Le Clézio counterposes another story, one dominated by deprivation and horror instead of youth and light, though both centered around attractive and resilient young women. But anybody trying to predict the course of the book at this stage would still be wrong.

The only other book by the 2008 Nobel laureate that I have read, ONITSHA, despite its almost mythical African setting, shows similar qualities to this one: adolescent protagonists, life-altering journeys, the mystique of an absent father, the search for home -- and above all the interplay of contrasting narratives. WANDERING STAR is constantly shifting between genres.
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