Polica Dubova

Slovensko / English

Ben Okri: Cesta sestradanih

Ben Okri
Cesta sestradanih
Translated by Urban Belina
Text on the cover by Iztok Osojnik
Number of pages: 554 pp.
Format: 129x198 mm
Published by KUD Police Dubove
Year of publication: 2016
Series:  Eho, 11
ISBN  978-961-93732-7-9
ISBN 978-961-7020-15-1 (epub)
Retail price: 26,90 €
Discount price: 19,90 €
E-book price: 20,18 €

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Okri lures us into an enchanted spiritual trip of an abiku, a spirit child named Azaro, trapped between the world of living and the world of the dead. Azaro is trying to find reasons to choose to stay alive, in an unnamed state amidst civil war, which we manage to place in Africa. This tough spiritual quest of a child with a semi-naive mind in war devastated homeland is by itself a very challenging theme, but Okri’s literary genius is actually revealed in its true splendour when we approach the last part and gradually realize, that the abiku myth is used as a political metaphor.

From reviews

‘They named me Lazaro,’ explains the narrator of The Famished Road, Ben Okri’s 1991 Booker winner. ‘But as I became a subject of much jest, and as many were uneasy with the connection between Lazaro and Lazarus, Mum shortened my name to Azaro.’ You might think of Azaro as a short Lazarus: the spirit-child, or abiku, of Yoruba myth, who flits between the paradisiacal “world of pure dreams” and the poverty and suffering of a modern west African slum, where children are born and die every day.

Into this bewildering life, Azaro brings a spirit-eye: around the corrupt policemen and market traders flit imps, ghosts and homunculi, demons and sad souls whom only he can see. These spirit brothers tempt him to return to the world of the unborn, away from his hard-working parents and the mundane squabbles of political strife, caricatured here as a competition between ‘The Party of the Rich’ and ‘The Party of the Poor’.

Okri’s novel – the first part of a trilogy – brought forward his distinctive brand of magical realism, but it also raised questions about some of the conventions of Anglo-African postcolonial writing. Is the abiku a youthful spirit – a Pan who sees the world in its full strangeness and plenitude – or one of Nigeria’s displaced children, cut off from a culture far richer than the material world of his birth? What does it mean for us to stay, like Azaro, in the ‘world of the living’ while reading this lush prose, full to bursting with fruits and seeds, palm wine and precious stones? ‘Our hunger can change the world,’ Azaro’s father tells him, ‘make it better, sweeter.’ Okri’s novel hungers for variety, for compassion and hope – and for an art that might make a feast out of famine.

James Purdon, The Guardian

Okri’s magical realism is distinctive; his prose is charged with passion and energy, electrifying in its imagery.

Nan A. Talese, Publisher’s Weekly

As this mind-boggling litany suggests, The Famished Road is not your typical book. Although almost the entire action of the story transpires in a small, impoverished village, Ben Okri has overlaid a whole world (and otherworld) on to this modest setting. Amidst a literary culture in which fantasy and realism, myth-making and myth-destroying, are often seen as incompatible approaches, this blurring of the boundaries is both pleasing and edifying.

Ted Gioia, The New Canon

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Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
The book was published in the frame of cultural project which is co-funded by Slovenian Book Agency.
Co-funded by Ministry of Culture of Republic Slovenia. 

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