(Reuters) - Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature, the prize committee said on Thursday.
Here are some key facts on Le Clezio:
* The prize committee said that he won for being an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."
* He is one of the most translated modern French authors. His first novel appeared when he was only 23. Due to his early experimentalist approach to the novel, Le Clezio has been counted among the avant-garde writers.
* He was born in Nice in April 1940 and qualified in literature and philosophy 17 years later. He then studied in England at Bristol and at the University of London as well as at the Institut d'Études Littéraires in Nice. In 1964 he gained an MA from the University of Aix-en-Provence.
* He made a breakthrough with his first novel, "Le procès-verbal" (1963), which was awarded the Theophraste Renaudot Prize. The work introduced one of his central themes, the flight from commonly accepted ways of thought into extreme states of mind.
* His debut novel was the first in a series of descriptions of crisis, which included the short story collection "La fièvre" (1965; Fever, 1966) and "Le déluge" (1966; "The Flood," 1967), in which he points out the trouble and fear reigning in the major Western cities.
* Le Clezio's constant travels are reflected in the settings of his books and his definitive breakthrough as a novelist came with "Desert" (1980), for which he received a prize from the French Academy. This work contained images of a lost culture in the North African desert, contrasting with a depiction of Europe seen through the eyes of unwanted immigrants.
* Among Le Clezio's most recent works are "Ballaciner" (2007), a deeply personal essay about the history of the art of film and the importance of film in the author's life, from the hand-turned projectors of his childhood, the cult of cineaste trends in his teens, to his adult forays into the art of film as developed in unfamiliar parts of the world.
* A new work, "Ritournelle de la faim," has just been published.