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Голодная дорога

(The Famished Road Trilogy #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  10,465 ratings  ·  739 reviews
`Вначале была река. Потом река стала дорогой и пошла в мир. Но поскольку когда-то она была рекой, то никогда больше она не смогла насытиться. А мы были бабочками, летающими вдоль обочины этой дороги…` Мечты нигерийцев населены существами, которые никогдане приходят в сны белых. Дорога, по которой идет Окри, покажется любому из европейцев омутом, населенным двуглавыми ...more
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published 2001 by Амфора (first published 1991)
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Katie Apparently the book refers to the beliefs of the Beng, a small ethnic group in West Africa.…moreApparently the book refers to the beliefs of the Beng, a small ethnic group in West Africa. (less)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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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
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Violet wells
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker
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
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
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 stars.....a monstrously beautiful piece of literature....a must read before you die

Decided to add two comments thatI gave to two Goodreads 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
Matt Brady
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 ...more
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, 20-ce, fiction
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 ...more
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
Nandakishore Varma
The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls.

The linearity of narrative is a relatively recent innovation in storytelling, rather like perspective in painting: it is not integral to the art. Myths, our oldest examples of the narrative art, are not linear. They spread across time and space in all directions, with times past, present and future seamlessly intermingling, and the ‘real’ world cohabiting the ‘imaginary’ one with people travelling across the boundary
Aug 11, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my worst enemy
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.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
For the first 150 pages I was mightily frustrated.

Then came the episode of the poisoned milk, distributed by a political party canvassing for votes

Suddenly 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 meaning

And that, I
Barry Cunningham
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.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 nights...

ok i think i have offically given up on it. It had so much potential to be good but all of the acid trip writing
240315: 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
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
This was a 500 pages ride through a dream where the real world and the spirit world are interwoven at each step. To really appreciate this book the reader must be willing to let go of some rationale. I am one of those readers and I let myself be mesmerized.

There isn't much of a plot in the way of a typical fantastical story. It is a view into the harsh, devastating world of an unspecified African community through the eyes of an abiku, a spirit child. The time changes, yet for the ones who
Sidharth Vardhan
How will you create a 'Midnight's Children' for a nation where there is political stability and which continues to born and reborn again (unlike Saleem Shinai who at least was born along with the nation)? You create spirit child - a creature born as human though it didnt want to or expected to. And thus it struggles with the connection it still has with the unliving. So far, so good.

The problem is that the book itself struggles with birth and rebirth. It seems like a bird who repeatedly takes
Richard Bon
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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.
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: favorites, africa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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 ...more
So, magical realism, another attempt. I try, but it is just not working for me.
I get that people enjoy the highly over-written and colourful part of the story - with spirits and talking animals, with dream adventures, with witches and curses. I see that the political thugs, wizards, herbalists and other strange beings are an appealing fantasy world. Where I get stuck is the basis of the story is reality - working as a labourer, carrying ridiculously heavy loads; beggars, and people living below
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. ...more
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teresa-favorites
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 goodreads randomly adding things.

i am a real sucker for stories written
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 ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful book about the spirit and real world. The story is about s father, mother and boy loved bing in a African slum surviving day to day. The only adult person named is Madame Koko a bar owner with mysterious powers. The story has spectacular imagery set in dreams and reality.

The father goes through many changes. Angry at the world and the day to day grinding poverty. He carries loads and his wife hawks items around the city. He also boxes and has three major fights. The boy Azaro dwells

Beautiful 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
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Exceptional World Literature
A Thrilling Journey through African Enchantment

Ben 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
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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 ...more

Other books in the series

The Famished Road Trilogy (3 books)
  • Songs of Enchantment
  • Infinite Riches
“This is what you must be like. Grow wherever life puts you down.” 1796 likes
“One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.” 71 likes
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