Translated from French by Dali Iashvili
The African is an autobiographical novel by Le Clezio, written at the age of 64. The author tells the story of his father, who moved to Africa after graduating from a British university with a degree in tropical infections. Being the only doctor in Ogoja, in the Cross Rivers State of Nigeria, he had devoted twenty years of his life not only to the treatment of those infected by leprosy and malaria, but also to fighting against the colonial society. Leaving behind the ruined France after 1948, 8-year-old Jean-Marie left for Africa on a cargo ship with his brother and mother. That is when he began writing his first novel in the notebooks he had with him in the cabin.
Africa was a whole new experience for Le Clézio: the fury of various seasons throughout the year, the happiness of freedom, the sweetness of walking barefoot in the savannas, the excitement of destroying enormous mounds of termites, the desire of lurking forever into the endless forests and valleys. This dream lasted for two years, but the excitement and reminiscence about Ogoja and the regret of not being able to perceive all of its treasures and fall in love with it, was what followed the author for his whole life.
The African serves as an ultimate gate to understanding the works of Le Clezio.
The novel has been translated to many languages across the world. The Georgian translation was published with the support of the Georgian National Book Centre.