The Freedom Artist
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About the Author
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.
"Okri's somber, fablelike novel is a call to rally against oppressive institutions and for broader social consciousness. In that regard, it's an inheritor of The Handmaid's Tale, Fahrenheit 451, and Things Fall Apart...Okri's writing is sturdy and graceful, fully inhabiting the authoritative tone of mythmaking."
"The Freedom Artist is a fable-like allegory set in a dystopian future in which the 'Hierarchy' is dominant, the citizens trapped and muted, except sometimes when they are heard screaming in their sleep. It is through this world that Karnak must travel to find his lover, who has been arrested for asking the question: 'Who is the prisoner?'"
--Literary Hub, one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2020
"A call for rally against oppression, following the arterial vein of The Handmaid's Tale and Fahrenheit 451...Addictive."
--Bookstr, a Three to Read Hot Pick selection
Selected as Publishers Weekly's Book of the Week
Selected as one of Booklist Reader's Best New Books of the Week
One of BookMarks's Best Reviewed Books of the Week
Included in BookRiot's February 2020 Indie Press Round-Up
Included in Publishers Weekly's Literary Fiction Adult Announcements for Spring 2020; Notable African-American Titles for Fall 2019-Spring 2020; African-American Interest Adult Titles, Fall 2019-Spring 2020; Science Fiction and Fantasy Preview for 2019-2020; and Science Fiction and Fantasy Preview for 2019-2020 (African Diaspora-inspired SFF)!
Included in Locus Magazine's New Book Roundup
"Flows with unflinching beauty and profound wisdom and grace."
"The Freedom Artist represents a heady jumble of influence and inspiration, a tapestry of biblical reference, mythology, folklore and fable. The lyrical simplicity of Okri's prose, with its short sentences and chapters, only heightens the power of the novel's political message."
"A multilayered allegorical narrative that cuts to the heart of our current political and cultural malaise, while maintaining a mythical, mesmeric flavor that makes the reader feel these are stories they have always known...It's savagely political, disturbing and fiercely optimistic, the deeply felt work of a writer who refuses to stop asking the hardest questions."
"Just as you're thinking, 'So this is what Dave Eggers's The Circle would be like if it were written by a poet, ' Okri slips you a shot of ayahuasca and things get decidedly freaky and apocalyptic...A beautiful and timely appeal for the importance of books, subversive stories and love."
--The Times (UK)
"A meditation on the threat to freedom represented by the emergence of what is already called 'a post-truth society'...It's a novel for our times."
"The book posits the theory that we are all in an inescapable prison...The novel is written in a postmodern style reminiscent of Henry Miller or William Burroughs."
"Okri creates a chilling atmosphere in The Freedom Artist...Okri's rhythmic, folk tale-like prose is beguiling."
--Sunday Times (UK)
"Ben Okri's most significant novel since his Man Booker Prize-winning masterpiece The Famished Road, The Freedom Artist weaves together ancient myth and modern politics for an impassioned story primed for the post-truth age. A story of love and loss, fiercely told and impossible to ignore."
--Waterstones, "The Best Books to Look Out For in 2019"
"The Freedom Artist has a compelling power and energy that won't let the reader go."
--The Herald (UK)
Praise for Ben Okri:
"Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three--literature, culture, and vision--are profoundly interwoven."
--Ali Smith, author of Autumn
"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