'The Freedom Artist'
By: Ben Okri - Akashic Books, $16.95
Description: In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner?
When Amalantis disappears, her lover Karnak goes looking for her. He searches desperately at first, then with a growing realization that to find Amalantis, he must first understand the meaning of her question.
Karnak’s search leads him into a terrifying world of deception, oppression, and fear at the heart of which lies the prison. Then Karnak discovers that he is not the only one looking for the truth.
Verdict: From the off, the book - which is written in a postmodern style - posits the theory that we are all in an inescapable prison, adding in garishly chilling prose that the rhythmic "folk tale" that is 'The Freedom Artist' is a vision of the world as one infinite possibility.
On a lead in page all of its own, situation quietly at its base, Okri begs of us to "read slowly," but given that the book is broken down into six sections, each one containing bite size chapters, well, that's easier said than done, trust me!
That said, and as much as the book truly free flows with unflinching beauty and profound wisdom nd grace, you might find yourself a little lost at times come its midsection.
For it's around there that prose and collected thoughts and imagines from Okri can, to some, start to unhinge the reader from the authors raison-d'ętre. But luckily I would advise you to continue onward, perhaps even re-read that middle ground, for come the end the messages are not only subtle and thought-provoking, but loud and clear.
Simply put, 'The Freedom Artist' is an impassioned plea for justice and a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society.
In Ben Okri’s most significant novel since the Booker Prize–winning The Famished Road, he delivers a powerful and haunting call to arms that everyone should take notice of.
Ben Okri was born in Minna, Nigeria. His childhood was divided between Nigeria, where he saw firsthand the consequences of war, and London. He won the Booker Prize in 1991 for The Famished Road.
He has published eleven novels, four volumes of short stories, four books of essays, and four collections of poems. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He also writes plays and screenplays.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a vice president of English PEN, and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes and honorary doctorates.
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