The Famished Road

I borrowed The Famished Road by Ben Okri from my professor one time. But I never finished it so I returned it to her shelf in the office. It’s a good read, just read halfway through the book, but pretty depressing.

The novel starts off with this on its first few pages:

“There was not one amongst us who looked forward to being born. We disliked the rigorous existence, the unfulfilled longings, the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love, the ignorance of parents, the fact of dying, and the amazing indifference of living in the midst of the simple beauties of the universes. We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see.” (3)

Ben Okri’s writing style and the use of imageries are very much captivating. You’d be drawn into the words, and a vivid picture is painted on situations of poverty, power plays, injustices, greed, suffering, life and death.

“The roads seemed to me then to have a cruel and infinite imagination. All the roads multiplied, reproducing themselves, subdividing themselves, turning in on themselves into labyrinths. The road was the worst hallucination of them all, leading towards home and then away from it, without end, with too many signs, and I found myself merely walking to discover where all the roads lead to, where they end.” (114-115)

The author mentioned something about some truths about some truths about the Rich and the Poor. There was this particular scene wherein Azero’s dad came to Madam koto’s bar and Azero raced to him. There’s a customer who asked the dad what Party is he going to vote for. And the dad replied that he’ll vote for the Party of the Poor. And the other customer said that he should vote for the Party of the Rich. He kept convincing him this. According to that person, the Party of the Rich may be  corrupt but they put it out in the open, you can see right through it. And if you cling to those who have money and power, you’ll never go hungry again. While the Party of the Poor are corrupt as well but they deny it or hide their ways, so you’ll never know how they truly look like. But Azero’s dad chose the Party of the Poor because they understand your situation. This resembles much of the situation of corruption in our country. People in power are dangerous people to cross. You try you best not to stand in their way and now more and more of the little authorities come out to abuse the commoners. They hide behind the masks of authority and power. And that can be really frightening.

I end this entry with this quote:

“On and on they went, crackling abundant promises in the air, launching future visions of extravagant prosperity, till they broke down the walls of our scepticism.” (123)


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