Desert is an epic novel that spans the twentieth century and ranges across two continents, from the North African desert to the streets of Marseilles. Young Nour is a North African desert tribesman. It is 1909, and as the First World War looms Nours 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. 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 Clezio tells, powerfully and movingly, the story of the last free men and of Europes colonial legacy, a story of war and exile and of the endurance of the human spirit.