The Famished Road
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The Famished Road

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Description

So long as we are alive, so long as we feel, so long as we love, everything in us is an energy we can use. He is born into a world of poverty, ignorance and injustice, but Azaro awakens with a smile on his face. Despite belonging to a spirit world made of enchantment, where there is no suffering, Azaro chooses to stay in the land of the Living: to feel it, endure it, know it and love it. This is his story.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 592 pages
  • 130 x 194 x 42mm | 399.16g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • repr.
  • 0099929309
  • 9780099929307
  • 28,620

Review Text

Like one of those populous medieval paintings of the Last Judgment, the African ghetto of the Nigerian-born Okri (Stars of the New Curfew, 1989), winner of the 1991 Booker Prize, not only teems with lives and spirits both sacred and profane, but contains profound truths - all described in rich, often lyrical prose. The narrator of this tale of life in a ghetto on the eve of independence is Azaro, a "spirit-child" who belonged to a group of spirit children who did not look forward to being born: they "disliked the rigors of existence, the unfulfilled longings of the world, and the amazing indifference of the Living in the midst of the simple beauties of the universe." Tired of being born and dying so many times, Azaro chooses to live, perhaps "because I wanted to make happy the bruised face of the woman who would become my mother." And live he does, but his name Azaro/Lazarus is not coincidental: he is constantly battling disease, disaster, and the spirits who try to recapture him. The ghetto itself is a harsh world of endemic poverty, crime, and political chicanery as local bullies vie to establish their political factions. Hovering in the background is the mysterious but helpful photographer; the enigmatic and powerful Madame Koto; and the malevolent blind singer, as well as a slew of good and bad spirits. Meanwhile, Azaro's parents' lives are a constant struggle; but as the election nears, Azaro's father enjoys a brief success, and in a subsequent vision proclaims that life is a road we're building that does lead to death but also to "wonderful things" for "so long as we are alive, so long as we feel, so long as we love, everything in us is an energy we can use." There is at last a moment of serenity, and Azaro savors the sweetness that has dissolved his fears: "I was not afraid of time." Long in the telling, like a great epic poem, Okri's tale is a beautifully rendered allegory, enriched by its African setting, of love powerful enough to defy even death and his minions. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"This is a book to generate apostles. People will be moved and, with stars in their eyes, will pass on the word" Time Out "Okri is incapable of writing a boring sentence. As one startling image follows the next, The Famished Road begins to read like an epic poem that happens to touch down just this side of prose... When I finished the book and went outside, it was as if all the trees of South London had angels sitting in them" -- Linda Grant Independent on Sunday "In a magnificent feat of sustained imaginative writing, Okri spins a tale that is epic and intimate at the same time. The Famished Road rekindled my sense of wonder. It made me, at age 50, look at the world through the wide eyes of a child" -- Michael Palin "Overwhelming - just buy it for its beauty" New Statesman "The Famished Road is a masterpiece if one ever existed" -- Jay Parini Boston Sunday Globeshow more

About Ben Okri

Ben Okri has published 8 novels, including The Famished Road, as well as collections of poetry, short stories and essays. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Chianti Rufino-Antico Fattore. He is a Vice-President of the English Centre of International PEN and was presented with a Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. He was born in Nigeria and lives in London.show more