Colin Smith

Desert

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J M G Le Clézio, Atlantic, £16.99

I have to confess that I had not heard of J M G Le Clézio before he won the Nobel Prize in 2008. Once I had, I found his books were hard to get hold of. Desert, described by the Nobel committee as his definitive breakthrough, has only just been published in English after 30 years. It is worth the wait.

Lyrical warrior: K'Naan

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Rapper K'Naan spoke to Colin Smith about growing up in Somalia and using beats against US foreign policy

Your sound is very different from the mainstream hip-hop or rap music around at the moment. In particular you use a lot of African rhythms and instruments on your backing tracks.

It's a sound that just came naturally. You could have asked me how come I speak Somali half the time. Music is a direct and honest expression and extension of who you are. Having spent half my life in Africa and the other half in North America what could I do that is honest? That's my sound. It's a fusion of the two worlds. And I couldn't help but create it just like that.

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