Off the Shelf: Mondo and Other Stories by J. M. G. Le Clézio

LeClezio Read the beginning of the title story, "Mondo", from Mondo and Other Stories by J. M. G. Le Clézio, translated by Alison Anderson:

"No one really knew where Mondo came from. He just showed up one day, by chance, here in our town, and no one really noticed, and then we got used to him. He was ten years old or so, with a round, tranquil face and fine, slightly slanted black eyes. But it was, above all, his hair that we noticed, ash brown hair that changed color with the light and seemed almost gray at nightfall.

We knew nothing about his family or his home. Maybe he didn’t have one. It was always just when you weren’t expecting him, when you weren’t thinking about him, that he showed up on the street corner, near the beach, or at the marketplace. He walked alone, with a determined air about him, looking all around. He wore the same clothes every day—blue denim pants, tennis shoes, and a green T-shirt that was a bit too big for him.

When he came closer, he looked you right in the eye and smiled, and his narrow eyes were like two bright slits. That was his way of greeting you. When he liked someone, he would stop and ask, quite simply, “Would you like to adopt me?”

And before anyone had time to recover from their surprise, he was already gone."

J. M. G. Le Clézio, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Nice in 1940 and is one of France’s best-known contemporary writers. His books Onitsha and The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts are both available from the University of Nebraska Press. Alison Anderson is the author of Hidden Latitudes and Darwin’s Wink and translated Le Clézio’s Onitsha.

To read a longer excerpt or to purchase Mondo and Other Stories, visit,674772.aspx.

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