J(ean) M(arie) G(ustave) Le Clézio 1940–
French novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic.
With the publication of his first work, La procès-verbal (1963; The Interrogation), Le Clézio emerged as one of the most provocative and promising young writers of contemporary French literature. Sometimes considered a descendant of such writers of the "Nouveau Roman" ("New Novel") as Nathalie Sarraute and Alain Robbe-Grillet, Le Clézio shares with these authors an interest in experimenting with literary form. Disordered narrative sequences, a repetitive, hypnotic attention to minute details, and a surreal montage of sensory perceptions characterize Le Clézio's fictional experiments. With little emphasis on plot or character development, Le Clézio's novels and short stories primarily recreate a feverish sense of anguish and alienation which he blames on the spiritual emptiness of contemporary society.
Critical reception to Le Clézio's work has been mixed. Although the publication of Le procès-verbal caused a stir in Parisian literary circles, many critics contend that Le Clézio's subsequent works have failed to fulfill the potential of his first novel. Critics commonly cite the repetitive themes, the obscure technical experiments, and the underdeveloped characters as elements which detract from the success of his fiction. However, he has been highly praised for his imaginative and impressionistic portraits of modern cityscapes.