July 09 , 2008



Young Nour is a North African desert tribesman. It is 1909, and as the First World War looms Nour's tribe - the Blue Men - are forced from their lands by French colonial invaders. Spurred on by thirst, hunger, suffering, they seek guidance from a great spiritual leader. The holy man sends them even further from home, on an epic journey northward, in the hope of finding a land in which they can again be free.

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The Hidden Side of Things

This book has been in contemplation, and even in process of construction, for the last ten or twelve years, but only now has it been found possible to publish it. It has lost nothing by the delay, for a student of the occult never ceases to learn, and I know a good deal more in various ways now than I did twelve years ago, even though I see still…

Decades later, an orphaned descendant of the Blue Men - a girl called Lalla - is living in a shantytown on the coast of Morocco. Lalla has inherited both the pride and the resilience of her tribe - and she will need them, as she makes a bid to escape her forced marriage to a wealthy older man. She flees to Marseilles, where she experiences both the hardships of immigrant life - as a hotel maid - and the material prosperity of those who succeed - when she becomes a successful model. And yet Lalla does not betray the legacy of her ancestors.

In these two narratives set in counterpoint, Nobel Prize-winning novelist J. M. G. Le Clzio tells - powerfully and movingly - the story of the 'last free men' and of Europe's colonial legacy - a story of war and exile and of the endurance of the human spirit.

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