University of Nebraska Press, Hardcover, 9780803229150, 206pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 1997
“An uncharacteristically accessible and dramatic narrative about Europeans in Africa from one of the avatars of the French New Wave novel. . . . Fintan’s fascinated absorption into Onitsha’s tribal culture, described with irresistible sensuous immediacy, is expertly counterpointed against his father’s self-destructive obsession with Africa’s legendary past—and convincingly motivates a criticism of the injustices of white colonialism that is all the more powerful for its seamless coexistence with a richly imagined story and consistently engaging characters. The most surprising work of Le Clézio’s long career, and one of his best.”—Kirkus
“[Onitsha] offers a compelling contrast between the white mistreatment of Africans and the occasionally dangerous natural beauty surrounding the village of Onitsha on the banks of the Niger River. Fintan never forgets the harsh facts of his childhood years, and readers will not forget this novel.”—Library Journal
“Onitsha also includes a scathing critique of colonialism, through the voice of Maou, who increasingly speaks out against the ways the white masters treat the locals. . . . Le Clézio’s writing always moves back toward the richness and the responsibilities of the present, highlighting the necessity of undergoing a veritable apprenticeship enabling one to experience the present fully. His fiction, whose scenes and details usually stand at only a slight remove from the facts of his own life, is thereby warmly personal in tone and thoroughly credible in effect.”—Michigan Quarterly Review
“Le Clézio gives an admirably full portrait of day-to-day life in Africa, from animistic religions, to food, to street festivals. And his presentation of the last queen of Meroë and her search for a promised land gives an epic frame to the continental vision he presents.”—Boston Book Review