Once again, U.S. writers haven’t passed muster in Stockholm. And to pour salt on the wound, the Nobel secretary told us we were insular. Not quite. Of the 40 or so books Frenchman J.M.G. Le Clezio—this year’s Nobel writer—has published, two dozen have been translated into English, including, most recently, Wandering Star, a lyrical novel about a pioneering Zionist and a Palestinian refugee. Le Clezio’s early works were sleek, stylish tales heavily influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre and the beveled nihilism of existential philosophy. As his career has progressed, and his interest in Central America’s Indians deepened, Le Clezio has become a more organic storyteller, as if his interest in present urbanism has been tempered by the discovery that, at least in the past, things have been done differently in the Americas.