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Wandering Star  
Author J. M. G. Le Clézio
Original title Étoile errante
Translator C. Dickson
Country France
Language French translated into English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Gallimard
Publication date 1992
Media type Print
Pages 339 pp
ISBN 9782070726509
OCLC Number 26148691

Étoile errante is the title of a novel written in French by French author and Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio and translated into English as Wandering Star. It tells the story of two teenage girls on the threshold and in the aftermath of World War II. Esther, a French Jew who flees for Jerusalem with her mother just after Italy's occupation of a small section of south-east France ended during World War II; and Nejma, a young Arab orphaned and unable to return to the ancient city of her birth, Akka, after the Israeli declaration of statehood. Esther emigrates to the newborn state of Israel, where she encounters another group of refugees, this time Palestinian.


Plot summary

In the year 1944 in a mountainous area on the French-Italian border Esther and her mother and all the Jews in the village of Saint-Martin must cross from France to Italy to avoid the SS[1]. After the war, she and her mother, Elizabeth, begin their long journey to France, to the sailing ship Sette Fratelli [2] which will take them to Palestine.When Esther finally arrives in Jerusalem, she briefly meets and exchanges names with Nejma, a Palestinian, another wanderer, one who ends up, in the summer of 1948, in the Nour Chams Refugee Camp.

Politics are left out of this novel

According to one reviewer [3] Wandering Star could have been an affecting novel if Le Clézio had written solely of the Palestinian or Jewish refugees. The reviewer commented further that by "taking no sides" and by "showing the agony of all" Le Clézio had produced "a near masterpiece". In the French newspaper Le Monde Pierre Lepape put forward that Le Clézio "goes much farther than that, much deeper;" in that Le Clézio's writing looks at the pivotal points of life itself for signs of trouble as much his writing looks for hope of peace (even confontating both time and the elements). Le Clézio's writing seeks by way of the sun and by way of the earth (being born and the process of death), prodding into the mystery of the origin of everything (despite not knowing the future) towards a need to forget as well as a need to remember (without these needs nothing is repairable)[4]

Translation by C. Dickson

The novel was translated from French into English by C. Dickson, but according to one review this translation has problems [5] .Another review cites the translation into English as beautiful[6] C. Dickson [7] has worked with and published Le Clézio's work before:

  1. a short story in Another Chicago Magazine in 1994 [8],
  2. one in The Chicago Review in 2000 [8]
  3. La ronde et autres faits divers (The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts)[9].

C. Dickson's comment on why she chose to translate was that in her opinion Wandering Star is at once a painful chronicle and a romance in the epic sense. Wandering Star tells two discrete stories linked by an adventitious connection when two girls briefly meet. The scenes describing their suffering and the religion that keeps them going through the cold, wet mountains are some of the most moving C. Dickson has read.[8]

Never had Esther seen such a lovely place. Between the rounded masses of the rocks, moss spread making a carpet, and a little higher up on the left there was a little sandy beach where the waves of the torrent plashed gentles ... the place looked to Esther like the image of paradise.

Reviews of Étoile errante (Wandering Star)

There are several compilations of Press reviews of Étoile errante (Wandering Star) online [10][11]

  1. Le Figaro ,which is one of the leading French morning daily newspapers[10][11]
  2. L'Humanité ("Humanity"), formerly the daily newspaper linked to the French Communist Party (PCF), but now independent [10][11]
  3. Dallas Morning News[10]
  4. MultiCultural Review[10][11]
  5. The Bloomsbury Review a "Book Magazine" published six times a year in Denver, Colorado[10][11]
  6. Télérama a weekly French magazine owned by the French daily newspaper Le Monde [10][11]
  7. Baltimore Jewish Times a subscription-based weekly community newspaper serving the Jewish community of Baltimore[10][11]
  8. Midwest Book Review publishes the several monthly book publications specifically designed for community and academic librarians, booksellers[10][11]
  9. WAV Magazine [10][11]
  10. Stewart O'Nan an American novelist.[10]
  11. Booklist , a publication of the American Library Association that provides critical reviews of books and audiovisual materials the New York Times calls Booklist an acquisitions bible for public and school librarians in the USA[10][11]
  12. Penny Rosenwasser, author of Voices from a Promised Land and board member of Jewish Voice for Peace[10][11][12]

Publication history


First French Edition

Le Clézio, J. M. G (1992) (in French). Étoile errante. Paris: Gallimard. pp. 339. ISBN 9782070726509. 

Second French Edition

Le Clézio, J. M. G (2008) (in French). Étoile errante. Paris: Editions Gallimard, Collection Folio, 2592. pp. 349. ISBN 9782070388899. 

First English translation (Extract Online)

""Étoile Errante"Translated from the French by Justin Goldberg". Retrieved 2008-11-03. "To be published in English as Wandering Star by Curbstone Press in 2005 in a translation by C. Dickson" 

Second English translated Edition

Le Clézio, J. M. G; translated by C. Dickson (2004-10-01). Wandering Star : a Novel. Willimantic, CT, USA: Curbstone Press Lannan Translation Selection Series. pp. 316. ISBN 9781931896115. [10]


  1. ^ "Wandering Star (J. M. G. Le Clézio) The Diaspora". Ignacio Schwartz. -. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  2. ^ (Sette Fratelli is an Italian term which means Seven Bothers in English )
  3. ^ "Review". Ignacio Schwartz. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  4. ^ Lepape, Pierre (05 1992). "Le livre des fugitifs" (in French). LE MONDE DES LIVRES.,40-0@2-3260,50-1105154,0.html. Retrieved 2009-02-24. "Il va beaucoup plus loin, beaucoup plus profond ; il cherche les signes du malheur et ceux de la paix au coeur même de la vie, dans l'affrontement avec le temps et avec les éléments ; avec le soleil et avec la terre, avec la naissance et avec la mort, avec l'énigme des origines et l'énigme de l'avenir, avec la mémoire indispensable et l'oubli sans lequel rien ne se répare".  "From the Publisher Wandering Star". barnes and noble (B&N Services). 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-12-24. "Pierre Lepape (08.05.92)extolled Étoile errante, noting that Le Clezio neither moralizes nor takes a political stance" 
  5. ^ "Book Review: Wandering Star by J. M. G. Le Clézio". The Bagel And The Rat. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2009-02-20. "The reason is nonstandard punctuation, primarily the use of commas to create run-on sentences, and other careless constructions: "Elizabeth had followed her into the bushes, she caught up with her on the bank of the river, breathless, her legs scratched from the brambles"" 
  6. ^ "WANDERING STAR (Curbstone Press, $15, paperback)". Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse. 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-20. "A moving expression of hope in the midst of exile." 
  7. ^ "ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS". C. Dickson. Words Without Borders. Retrieved 2009-02-23. "C. Dickson is the translator of
    1. Shams Nadir’s The Astrolabe of the Sea
    2. Mohamed Dib’s Savage Night
    3. Le Clézio La ronde et autres faits divers (The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts)
    4. Le Clézio Wandering Star
    5. Gisèle Pineau’s Macadam Dreams
    6. and Gisèle Pineau’s Devil’s Dance.
    Her prizes and awards include the ALTA Fellowship and scholarships to the Collège International des Traducteurs Littéraires. She lived for five years in West Africa and now lives in France." 
  8. ^ a b c "Reading Guide: Wandering Star". Matthew N. Proser, University of Connecticut. Curbstone Press. 2001. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  9. ^ Le Clézio, J. M. G.; Translated by C. Dickson (2003). The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts. Lincoln, Nebraska, USA: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 281. ISBN 978-0-8032-2946-4. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n one of which was compiled by Consortium Books [ "Wandering Star J.M.G. Le Clezio"]. Wandering Star J.M.G. Le Clezio (Author) C. Dickson (Translator). Consortium. Retrieved 24 December 2008. "Editorial Reviews
    • Le Figaro
    • L’ Humanité
    • Dallas Morning News
    • MultiCultural Review
    • Bloomsbury Review
    • Télérama
    • Baltimore Jewish Times
    • MoorishGirl
    • Midwest Book Review
    • Stewart O'Nan
    • Penny Rosenwasser" 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k the other by Amazon"Wandering Star (Lannan Translation Selection Series) (Paperback)". 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-22. "Editorial Reviews
    • Booklist
    • WAV Magazine
    • Jewish Book World
    • Ralph Magazine
    • L'Humanité
    • Bloomsbury Review
    • Le Figaro
    • Dallas Morning News
    • MultiCultural Review
    • Télérama
    • Baltimore Jewish Times
    • MoorishGirl
    • Midwest Book Review
    • Stewart O'Nan
    • Penny Rosenwasser" 
  12. ^ Rosenwasser, Penny (1992). Voices from a "promised Land". Willimantic, Connecticut: Curbstone Press. pp. 270. ISBN 9780915306572. 


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