Le Clézio dedicates Nobel Prize to Qurratulain Hyder, others

December 8th, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, Dec 8 (IANS) Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has dedicated his Nobel Prize for Literature to Urdu author Qurratulain Hyder and Hindi-language Mauritian novelist Abhimanyu Unnuth among many others. In his eagerly anticipated lecture titled “Dans la forêt des paradoxes” (in the forest of paradoxes) and webcast live from Oslo and Stockholm Sunday evening, the French novelist read out a roll call of great authors and poets to whom he dedicated the coveted honour.

Recalling a story-teller named Elvira, whom he had met in a Central American forest 30 years ago, Le Clézio said: “It is to her, to Elvira, that I address this tribute - and to her that I dedicate the Prize which the Swedish Academy is awarding me. To her and to all those writers with whom - or sometimes against whom - I have lived.

“To the Africans: Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ahmadou Kourouma, Mongo Beti, to Alan Paton’s ‘Cry the Beloved Country’, to Thomas Mofolo’s ‘Chaka’. To the great Mauritian author Malcolm de Chazal, who wrote, among other things, ‘Judas’. To the Hindi-language Mauritian novelist Abhimanyu Unnuth, for ‘Lal passina’ (Sweating Blood) to the Urdu novelist Qurratulain Hyder for her epic novel ‘Ag ka Darya’ (River of Fire).”

When his name was announced in October as this year’s winner, Le Clézio, who will be presented the award here Dec 10, had said in a media interview that there were others, who should have been given this prize, “such as Edouard Glissant from Martinique or Quratulain Hyder from India”.

He had told the interviewer: “She (Hyder) is an Indian, who writes in Urdu, but has translated her book ‘River of Fires’ into English herself. Read this book.”

In his Nobel lecture, among many more names, he paid tributes to Henry Roth, “my neighbour on New York Street in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for ‘Call it Sleep’”, Jean-Paul Sartre, “for the tears contained in his play ‘Morts sans sépulture’”, J.D. Salinger, “because he succeeded in putting us in the shoes of a young fourteen-year-old boy named Holden Caulfield” - the protagonist of the cult classic “The Catcher in the Rye”.

“To José Maria Arguedas, Octavio Paz, Miguel Angel Asturias. … For their great imagination, to Alphonse Allais and Raymond Queneau. To Georges Perec for ‘Quel petit vélo à guidon chromé au fond de la cour?’ … To Khalil Gibran. To Rimbaud. To Emile Nelligan. To Réjean Ducharme, for life.”

Talking about the books that inspired him, Le Clézio recalled: “…But the books which had the greatest impact on me were the anthologies of travellers’ tales, most of them devoted to India, Africa, and the Mascarene islands, or the great histories of exploration by Dumont d’Urville or the Abbé Rochon, as well as Bougainville, Cook, and of course ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’. “

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