Onitsha ($35.00; paper $15.00; Apr. 3, 1997; 206 pp.; 0-8032-2915-1; paper 0-8032-7966-3): An uncharacteristically accessible and dramatic narrative about Europeans in Africa from one of the avatars of the French New Wave novel. Fintan, the 12-year-old son of an Italian mother and an English father, travels to the Nigerian village of Onitsha, where his father (whom he's never met) works for ``the commercial companies of West Africa.'' Fintan's fascinated absorption into Onitsha's tribal culture, described with irresistible sensuous immediacy, is expertly counterpointed against his father's self-destructive obsession with Africa's legendary past--and convincingly motivates a criticism of the injustices of white colonialism that is all the more powerful for its seamless coexistence with a richly imagined story and consistently engaging characters. The most surprising work of Le ClÇzio's long career, and one of his best.