Winner of the Man Booker Prize: “Okri shares with García Márquez a vision of the world as one of infinite possibility. . . . A masterpiece” (The Boston Sunday Globe).
Azaro is a spirit child, an abiku, existing, according to the African tradition, between life and death. Born into the human world, he must experience its joys and tragedies. His spirit companions come to him often, hounding him to leave his mortal world and join them in their idyllic one. Azaro foresees a trying life ahead, but he is born smiling. This is his story.
When President Bill Clinton first went to Africa he quoted from The Famished Road, which has inspired literature, art, politics, and pop songs—and even been referenced in an episode of The Simpsons. A transformative story for all ages and all times, it means many things to many people. Few contemporary novels have aroused as much passion as this one. Indeed, twenty-five years after its breakout publication, the iconic story of Azaro’s travels continues to mesmerize new generations.
For readers of Things Fall Apart or One Hundred Years of Solitude, this Man Booker Prize–winning blend of fabulism and gritty realism by the Nigerian author of Astonishing the Gods and Dangerous Love is a “dazzling, hypnotic” journey through Africa that “weaves the humblest detail with the most extravagant flight of fancy to create an astonishing fictional tapestry” (San Francisco Chronicle). Already considered a classic of world literature, it is “a masterpiece if ever one existed” (The Boston Sunday Globe).
Teeming with fevered, apocalyptic visions as well as harrowing scenes of violence and wretched poverty, this mythic novel by Nigerian short-story writer ( Stars of the New Curfew ) and poet Okri won the 1991 Booker Prize. The narrator, Azaro, is a spirit child who maintains his ties to the supernatural world. Possessed by `` boiling hallucinations, '' he can see the invisible, grotesque demons and witches who prey on his family and neighbors in an African ghetto community. For him (and for the reader), the passage from the real to the fantastic world is seamless and constant; many of the characters--the political thugs, grasping landlords and brutal bosses--are as bizarre as the evil spirits who empower them. In a series of vignettes, Azaro chronicles the daily life of his small community: appalling hunger and squalor relieved by bloody riots and rowdy, drunken parties; inhuman working conditions and rat-infested homes. The cyclical nature of history dooms human beings to walk the road of their lives fighting corruption and evil in each generation, fated to repeat the errors of the past without making the ultimate progress that will redeem the world. Okri's magical realism is distinctive; his prose is charged with passion and energy, electrifying in its imagery. The sheer bulk of episodes, many of which are repetitious in their evocation of supernatural phenomena, tends to slow narrative momentum, but they build to a powerful, compassionate vision of modern Africa and the magical heritage of its myths.