The Famished Road, Ben Okri’s 1991 Booker Prize winning novel, follows the wanderings of an abiku or spirit-child, a liminal figure who hovers between the real world and the supernatural realm. Azaro is a witness to the political and social upheavals of his soon-to-be independent African country, and the relentless efforts of his parents and neighbours to survive amidst poverty and hunger; but he is also alert to the existence of a parallel world of supernatural and grotesque creatures that is at once fascinating and terrifying. This study seeks to capture the inflexions of Okri’s poetic prose as well as draw the contours of his imaginary homelands populated by impoverished ghetto dwellers, greedy politicians, mischievous spirits, but also enthralling storytellers and idealistic characters who still believe it is possible to create new routes beyond the famished road, to re-dream the world and make it real.
1. Ben Okri in context
2. The poetics of space and time
3. The trope of the abiku
4. The real and the supernatural: worlds in collusion
5. Storytelling: the power of words and narrative
6. Society and politics
Conclusion: “How should I use my eyes”
Autour de l'auteur
Vanessa Guignery is Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at the École normale supérieure in Lyon. She is the author of The Fiction of Julian Barnes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), Conversations with Julian Barnes (Mississippi Press, 2009) Ceci n’est pas une fiction. Les romans vrais de B.S. Johnson (PUPS, 2009), and Novelists in the New Millenium (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).