The Famished Road

The Famished Road In the decade since it won the Booker Prize Ben Okri s Famished Road has become a classic Like Salman Rushdie s Midnight s Children or Gabriel Garcia Marquez s One Hundred Years of Solitude it combi

  • Title: The Famished Road
  • Author: Ben Okri
  • ISBN: 9780385425131
  • Page: 150
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the decade since it won the Booker Prize, Ben Okri s Famished Road has become a classic Like Salman Rushdie s Midnight s Children or Gabriel Garcia Marquez s One Hundred Years of Solitude, it combines brilliant narrative technique with a fresh vision to create an essential work of world literature.The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradIn the decade since it won the Booker Prize, Ben Okri s Famished Road has become a classic Like Salman Rushdie s Midnight s Children or Gabriel Garcia Marquez s One Hundred Years of Solitude, it combines brilliant narrative technique with a fresh vision to create an essential work of world literature.The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death The life he foresees for himself and the tale he tells is full of sadness and tragedy, but inexplicably he is born with a smile on his face Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro s loving parents are made destitute The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter day Lazarus s story.

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    About “Ben Okri”

    1. Ben Okri

      Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968 Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative Literature at Essex University in England He was poetry editor for West Africa magazine between 1983 and 1986 and broadcast regularly for the BBC World Service between 1983 and 1985 He was appointed Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge in 1991, a post he held until 1993 He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1987, and was awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Westminster 1997 and Essex 2002.His first two novels, Flowers and Shadows 1980 and The Landscapes Within 1981 , are both set in Nigeria and feature as central characters two young men struggling to make sense of the disintegration and chaos happening in both their family and country The two collections of stories that followed, Incidents at the Shrine 1986 and Stars of the New Curfew 1988 , are set in Lagos and London.In 1991 Okri was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel The Famished Road 1991 Set in a Nigerian village, this is the first in a trilogy of novels which tell the story of Azaro, a spirit child Azaro s narrative is continued in Songs of Enchantment 1993 and Infinite Riches 1998 Other recent fiction includes Astonishing the Gods 1995 and Dangerous Love 1996 , which was awarded the Premio Palmi Italy in 2000 His latest novels are In Arcadia 2002 and Starbook 2007.A collection of poems, An African Elegy, was published in 1992, and an epic poem, Mental Flight, in 1999 A collection of essays, A Way of Being Free, was published in 1997 Ben Okri is also the author of a play, In Exilus.In his latest book, Tales of Freedom 2009 , Okri brings together poetry and story.Ben Okri is a Vice President of the English Centre of International PEN, a member of the board of the Royal National Theatre, and was awarded an OBE in 2001 He lives in London.

    721 thoughts on “The Famished Road”

    1. They wanted to know the essence of pain, they wanted to suffer, to feel, to love, to hate, to be greater than hate, and to be imperfect in order to always have something to strive towards, which is beauty. They wanted also to know wonder and to live miracles. Death is too perfect.The road thirsts for libations of blood and tears and sucks into its inescapable vortex, parables of imperialist avarice and remnants of broken dreams. It cuts across the acropolis of untold agonies, eavesdropping on ci [...]

    2. This book almost broke me and ate me.I went to bed after reading the first twenty pages of it and I dreamt about chasing an antelope with a broken horn which jumped out the window. I, in turn, was being chased by a wild boar covered in blood which spoke in a human voice. There was also a flying carpet.I don't really like magical realism but this book didn't care. I was gonna have it whether I liked it or not. It swept me away before I knew it. By the end of it I would read about a man who slept [...]

    3. Just didn’t feel the love for this. I hate long accounts of dreams in novels and magical realism can be like reading an endless succession of dreams. I like the laws of gravity to hold fast in the novels I read so this started off at a big disadvantage where my reading preferences are concerned (One of the few novels I’ve ever failed to finish is Midnight's Children). In short, this is a novel about an African community struggling and failing to be born, the community a microcosm of Africa i [...]

    4. Towards the end of the book, in Chapter 12 of Book 7, the author states quite clearly what seems to be his intended message:The spirit-child is an unwilling adventurer into chaos and sunlight, into the dreams of the living and the dead. Things that are not ready, not willing to be borne or to become, things for which adequate preparations have not been made to sustain their momentous births, things that are not resolved, things bound up with failure and with fear of being, they all keep recurrin [...]

    5. 5 starsa monstrously beautiful piece of literature.a must read before you dieDecided to add two comments thatI gave to two friends since I wrote such a flimsy little fragments in 2013 (when I was not writing reviews)"This book is so unbelievable. I have never read a book that was like one long dream sequence full of wonder, beauty and ugliness. It is incredible. This is in my top ten books of all time""You will die from the wonder. I cannot put into words the impact this book has had on me. I p [...]

    6. A boy sat down to read a book, but when he looked closely, it was not a book, but a person. The person had green skin and roller-skates for eyes. A lizard with a head as big as the moon scuttled over and sniffed the green-skinned person. "What are you looking at?" the person asked the boy. "I thought you were a book," the boy said. "No," the person said, "I am a metaphor or magical realism or some shit. I dunno. But I have roller-skates for eyes, that's pretty cool." The boy shrugs. "You're mum [...]

    7. An oneiric epic. Phantasmagoria in the bush. One is reminded of Achebe's Things Fall Apart in which the Yoruba myth of the abiku, or spirit child, is so much more darkly rendered. The Famished Road is not so dark a book. It is scary in its way, surely, loaded as it is with its cast of frighteners, but it can also be oddly reassuring in its vivid depiction of the afterlife. Heaven may indeed be a place where nothing ever happens, yes, but as intimated by Okri it is also beautiful, in a Daliesque [...]

    8. For the first 150 pages I was mightily frustrated.Then came the episode of the poisoned milk, distributed by a political party canvassing for votesSuddenly the sense of community coalesces. The symbolism speaks. The deceitfulness and peril of whiteness is exposed. It recurs in many guises: from false holiness to naked danger to amulet of enemies.But Okri would not have us simplify, would not have us make this many-faceted reflection into a parable where every sign has one meaningAnd that, I thin [...]

    9. Oh my dear lord, how I hated "The Famished Road". Friends don't let friends read this book. I only finished it because I was trekking in Nepal with no alternative English-language book for miles upon miles. In my personal hell, this is the only book in the library.

    10. I am within sight of finishing my occasional project to read all of the Booker winners. I have to say that I have very mixed feelings about this. It is undoubtedly striking and very different to any of the other winners, but it could have been better - for me it seemed too long and a little too self indulgent. The reader is also expected to swallow a lot of African folklore.There are only four main characters. The narrator Azari is a spirit-child, and at every crisis point he journeys into the s [...]

    11. A very strange book. I found the first two thirds dull, densely dreamlike, and impenetrable. Then something caught fire, and the last third was absolutely riveting. In the final chapters, the camera pulls back and you realize that the book isn't just about a boy who is struggling to be "born"; it's about all of post-colonial Africa, struggling repeatedly to be born, and too often falling back into death. It needs to be read with Zimbabwe, or Liberia, or Sierra Leone, or Angola, or Uganda, or the [...]

    12. I read this book when Ben Okri won the Booker Prize, its an astonishing read full of detail and insight into the world of spirits in village life. I could not put it down its compelling and hypnotic. Amust read for every serious book reader.

    13. I CAN'T HANDLE THIS BOOK! It's addicting and annoying and takes itself too seriously and colorful and tense and weird and jumpy and cool. WHAT DO I DO?! I am a bit over halfway and can't quite stop reading it but it keeps me up all night (not turning pages, but anxious after I put it down). It's also ridonculously long, so I can't just suck it up and finish it in a couple nightsok i think i have offically given up on it. It had so much potential to be good but all of the acid trip writing never [...]

    14. This is my book of the year! I absolutely devoured this book. An African tale filled with folklore, sangomas and creatures of a nether world. The story traces the life of Lazarus, a boy gifted with the power to see and engage in the African spirit world. He takes you along a very hungry road that is Nigeria filled with poverty, corruption and disease yet also rich in many other ways. This book was filled with moments where I wonder what on earth was going on only to be dumped firmly back on hars [...]

    15. later addition: well the guardian newspaper says it is the 25th anniversary since publication- so what are you waiting for? read it!review for third volume of 'the famished road' trilogy: this last of three novels by ben okri, the famished road series, is a great summation of themes introduced, elaborated, extended, from the other two. i read some reviewers who claim he merely includes more of the same, more fantastical, definitely african, images, thickening the stew but not creating new savour [...]

    16. I have a question, after finishing this book: how can I go back to living my daily work life? This masterpiece of imagery and language made me question everything about the capitalist machine.The story of the boy Azaro and his family's struggle in a poor neighborhood somewhere in Nigeria shuttles readers between the real world and the spirit world and interweaves the two in any given scene. The boy's father (who transforms himself into a mystically powered boxer named "Black Tyger") and mother t [...]

    17. In the month since I've finished The Famished Road it's managed to become less appealing and the worse parts have stuck more strongly in my mind. So I dropped it from three stars to two. I hate disliking books, so here's my attempt at articulating its weaknesses. Okri has some really well developed characters in here. Azaro's father is conflicted, torn between his natural viciousness and his desire to be gentle and kind to his family. The photographer is a great political symbol. Azaro himself i [...]

    18. A young Nigerian boy named Azaro is caught between two worlds: the real world, and the spirit world he came from when he was born. He's in a constant struggle to keep his soul here in the real world, with the spirits trying to get him to join them again in their world. Azaro's real world family lives a hand-to-mouth existence, with his father doing manual labor jobs for very little money, and his mother peddling what cheap goods she can get ahold of. They live in a compound in the ghetto, and ar [...]

    19. Okri provides a wonderful insight into the life of ordinary villagers during the colonial rule at an unnamed location in Africa, presumably in Nigeria. The daily struggles of the characters are very well portrayed and deeply moving at times. Even though the plot is simple, the prose flows beautifully and it kept me hooked to the book. What I found difficult to get through were the hallucination/dreamlike descriptions, the frequency and duration of which went on increasing as the book progressed. [...]

    20. i am no expert but i think the reigning opinion amongst literary snobs is that magic realism is an embarrassing gimmick. braving the possible negative backlash, i have already put one hundred years of solitude on my favorites shelf. today, i'm going to take another leap of faith and confess that i also loved this one. i read this quite a while ago (in 2006 maybe) but tonight i don't want to sleep so i'm killing the time on randomly adding things. i am a real sucker for stories written from a ch [...]

    21. I found this book immensely frustrating—I wanted to love it much more than I did, but despite the beauty of Okri's prose, I read The Famished Road itching for a red pen. At least half of the book could have been edited out, and it would have made for a much stronger novel. I can appreciate what Okri was trying to do with making it so cyclical: the novel is about Azaro, a 'spirit child' who is reborn over and over to the same parents, enduring the same events, paralleling the struggles Africa f [...]

    22. An awful book. Boring, impenetrable, and practically unreadable. Utter dross hiding behind the obscure and silly moniker of 'magic realism'. I have to admit I started skimming whole paragraphs, something I've NEVER done as a reader. Nonesense. Vague. Over written. No plot. Rubbish.

    23. This was my first read, and favorite, out of my recent selections from West African authors. The use of magical realism is very fitting, combining the spiritual beliefs with everyday life, very much like Wole Soyinka and Amos Tutuola have done before. The cyclical plot structure also intensified the genre. It felt like a lot was happening but going nowhere fast, reminding me of Yeat’s poem “Things Fall Apart” where “the center cannot hold.” Yet, having lived in Ghana, Africa while read [...]

    24. Un copil ce se zbate într-o lume plină de mizerie îi este dat să renască pe tărâmul spiritelor și să trăiască alături de alți abiku- copii spirit-. Azaro alege lumea umană în defavoarea celei a spiritelor. Acesta trăiește în lumea africană unde oamenii mor de foame, negrii sunt priviți cu ură de către albi, corupția este auto-impusă, sărăcia devine religie universală, iar politica devine centru de interes pentru cei a căror ultimă speranță e să aspire la ceva mai [...]

    25. 1991Beautiful images and prose, but far too long to keep me loving it. Can you have too much beauty? I wouldn't have thought that could be so until I read this book. It is well written and the events, both real and spiritual, are wonderfully described, using elements of African folk story-telling effectively and juxtaposing contrasting images, but nothing much happens.It would be more accurate to say that the same things keep happening: Dad gets into fights, Mum gets upset, Azaro runs off and se [...]

    26. A Thrilling Journey through African EnchantmentBen Okri's THE FAMISHED ROAD is exceptional in its treatment of fiction as a study of both history and prophecy. Through the eyes of Okri's child hero, Azaro (shortened from Lazarus) readers enter an African community coming to terms with that crossroads known as change. Like another boy hero in the famed CALVIN AND HOBBES comic strip, Okri's Azaro is prone to wandering roads of the imagination that constantly lead him in body, mind, and spirit away [...]

    27. It was too much for my little brain to process at certain times, got confused between reality and visions/dreams.Could not really understand some of the metaphors,This book was way too strong for me.

    28. This book was really big! Little words and about 500 pages. The writer has a really unique style. I am sure there is a term for it, but basically he mixes the magical with the practical. One sentence a boy is walking to the store, and the next he is encountering three yellow glowing witches, an old herbalist, a wizard's apprentice and a centaur in a magical forrest. Yeah, it's kind of like that. My description might repel or attract you to the story, but there is a lot more going on in this book [...]

    29. The reviews say things like, "you've never read a novel like this before"; Winner of the Booker Prize, etc. Well, sometimes you want to read a little magical realism, right? Like you are yearning to re-read Cien Años de Solidad by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I also feel like that sometimes. But I only gave this book three stars because it is 500+ pages of this: "Mesmerized by the cobalt shadows, the paradoxical ultramarine air, and the silver glances of the dead, I listened to the hard images o [...]

    30. OK, I must admit the that writing is pretty, very descriptive and the story (which is almost in the background) is compelling. However, after a few chapters the descriptiveness becomes too bizarre and too changeable. I got completely fed up after 10 pages the first time I tried to read it. This time I made it to 180 pages before giving up. I cannot stand this writing anymore and Okri has spoiled it for me. I cannot understand for the life of me why it won the Booker Prize. Maybe because it came [...]

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