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The Freedom Artist

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  34 reviews
After her disappearance, a man begins to search for the woman, because he loves her. He searches desperately at first, and then with terrible realization. And we journey with him as he searches, through a frightening, disintegrating world of lies, and violence, and fear. At the heart of this disturbing world lies the Prison.

To survive, and to answer the girl’s
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 7th 2019 by Head of Zeus
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Average rating 3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  180 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Ed Yong
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story is set in a dystopian world where books have disappeared for a long time. The people are encouraged to be average, sad and unthinking. So far it sounds familiarly Orwellian but it diverges from Orwell's1984 in several ways. For example, the government called Hierarchy is just as disorderly, desperate and illusive as the underground movement named “underground” (puzzlingly non-capitalised). There are one or two side stories but the main plot is about Karnak trying to find out whether it ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was ok

2.5 Stars!

“Uniqueness, individuality, curiosity, became invidious qualities. They made enemies of the state. Anyone who stood out in some way was suspect. To be different was to condemn your fellow citizens. Those who were tall learnt to walk with a stoop. The intelligent learnt to be foolish.”

Okri is one of those many names I have heard countless times, but I have never got round to reading until a review of this caught my attention. Like most dystopic novels this create
Richa Bhattarai
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Can a book start a revolution? Ben Okri’s The Freedom Artist certainly intends to.

The novel is an ardent entreaty to every single person in the world, an appeal to let go of their meaningless lives and rebel against expected but often nonsensical societal norms. Okri stands in the midst of an increasingly chaotic, mechanical, empty universe--zealously trying to transform it back to its pure and blissful form. The novel demands, almost screams for, an examined life nourished by philos
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
The theme of this book was made clear in the first few sentences and, with a small amount of plot and character development, it was fulfilled by the last pages. I found this book a struggle to read as it just did not engage me. The premise was interesting but sadly I felt it did not go beyond it. The writing, at the sentence level, is fine but the fable-like style had way too much telling for my liking. It was very difficult to visualise the world or characters with a noticeable lack of any conc ...more
Stephen Dunn
Jun 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
The book had interesting themes but lacked substance on the plot and world that the main characters inhabited.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book on so many levels. Not only is one of the heroines a bookseller, but this novel advocates books and reading as the key to awakening consciousness throughout; especially reading fiction as it allows us to question our world. The narrator laments how, ‘Man fell from the circle of dreams into the prison of history, from fable to fact’.

The novel depicts a world in which people have let themselves fall asleep and blindly follow their leaders, the ‘Hierarchy’. People disappear in th
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The writing is amazing, especially the first two thirds of the book - my first Okri book.
Almost every word and sentence belonged and was not superfluous. I found the activism and rebellion against massive odds and numbers highly inspiring to my spirit and akin to the activism for veganism.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
What absolute nonsense, total boll***s and waste of paper.
May 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed roughly the first third as I liked the dreamlike set-up and vagueness of character. Reminded me of Murakami or Ishiguro's Buried Giant (or even the timely Handmaid's Tale!). However it felt quite a slog to fall down the rabbit hole of weirdness in plot - maybe it was too philosophical for me but I couldn't grasp the meaning of a decent amount of the story that it just felt too much. Having said that, I loved the last chapter and the final few paragraphs.
Definitely one to mull over and
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ironically, the books intends to amplify the importance of books, but for me I almost felt the need to stop reading this one. It’s all over the place with a lot of nonsensical descriptions. Read if you want to appreciate some lines / quotes.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
The old myths speak of a prison, but the system cannot allow such a story to be told. Progress can only be attained through hard working, no intellectual efforts and, above all, no questions. But, when a girl who dared to question is suddenly taken, her lover starts wondering about the questions she used to ask. And he starts seeing… In a world where everyone screams during their sleep and atrocity seems ever more acceptable, Karnak starts to follow the path of the question-askers. And, without ...more
Elfarina pagesofelly
#bookreview 📖: 'The Freedom Artist' by Ben Okri 🌿 This book enchanted me, and I had no way of expecting how it was going to end. Set in a society very much like our own but in a world from which books have vanished 🍂

✍🏽 "It is written in the oldest legends that all are born in prison." - the opening line provokes readers to mull over the idea of living in constant captivity. And this provocation does not end till the last page. Okri's novel is disturbing and savagely political, exploring a
David Kenvyn
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book by Ben Okri is worth waiting for. This one is no exception. It is a meditation upon the role of mythology in our culture. But Okri is not the kind of author who would do this as an academic exercise. He creates a world, very much like ours, and builds its own mythology. He starts from the basis that the story of the Garden of Eden is an adaptation of a much earlier mythology of imprisonment, to make it more acceptable, more pleasant. This mythology of imprisonment holds that we are trappe ...more
Kevin Warne
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very difficult book to categorize. It has elements of magical realism, fantasy, myth, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and nearly poetry. The book begins with the instruction to the reader to "Read slowly". It's good advice. The book requires careful reading which will annoy some and reward others. I think that may have been the point. This book increases a lot of abstract writing which will suck you into an odd world if you let it. It's a rebellion against our fast paced world.
Jonathan Wilson
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What to make of this?

This book was addictive but confusing. I couldn't square the metaphor of the prison with our world, but at the same time I couldn't put it down wanting to find out how the story threads resolved. An interesting read that I'm glad I completed, but I'm not sure what it told me.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a reflection of the politically correct times we live in. Originality, beauty, literature all banned. Okri's writing almost biblical at times with shades of 'Song of Songs' and Old Testament visions and prophecies. Children and young people generate the need to rebel - and win through in the end. Alleluia. Then death to the lifeless ruling beaurocrats.....
Thomas Oakland
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book, in which Okri skillfully manages to play with your emotions and bring a beautiful storyline that is easy to read, and a lovely read at that. Okri advised that it is to be read slowly, and I would most definitely take that advice, as it assists in truly taking in the beautiful poetic writing. I would most definitely recommend reading it!
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book - the author advised to read slow so I did - and it had a beautiful poetic and mesmeric quality - I found myself quite hooked and wondering during the day about the story. It is told as a fable and I can see that if you rush through it, you would miss so much of the rhythm of the tale. I will be reading more by Mr Okri!!
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Magical, elusive, ultimately optimistic, this book explore the contemporary nature of freedom. A parable for the modern world, this book is familiar (think "1984" or "Animal Farm") but nonetheless unsettling for that.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a huge fan of Ben Okri, but this book was a struggle to finish. I could not connect with any of the poetic references nor the imagery.

But thank you publisher for letting me indulge in my Ben Okri nostalgia.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
In part 1, I was on board with the story. I liked the setting and looked forward to seeing where we went. Unfortunately, we went nowhere and slowly. I found this novel a bit repetitive and circular. The prose was pretty, but the story couldn't excite me.
Damien Evans
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is very good. A world of people sleeping through their lives. Not thinking, not questioning. Becoming less. And those who start to question it. It's a "thinker" of a book. A wake up call of a book.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Crikey, what a load of absolute nonsense!
Apr 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
DNF at page 197
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well that was weird!
Sep 27, 2019 is currently reading it
from carolyn, her signed copy, judy didn't have time
read slow
i suggested it to mlm, for al's work.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really thought provoking
Rowan T
Oct 16, 2019 added it
Shelves: not-finished
I can’t give this one a rating unfortunately. Was so looking forward to it and just couldn’t get into the style and pace.
Ross Howard
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read nothing else quite like this to date
Andrea van Wyk
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Set in a dystopian post-truth world, "The Freedom Artist" tells the story of Karnak and his beloved, the mysterious Amalantis. It is a world where, in an echo of Ray Bradbury, books are banned.
It is a world where people are enslaved in a prison of their own making, though most do not realise they are prisoners. Those who know form part of an underground movement who paint the words "Who is the Prisoner?" on walls around the city where the story takes place.

Amalantis too, asks the question
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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