Thursday, November 5, 2009

Songs of Enchantment by Ben Okri

The novel Songs of Enchantment by Ben Okri is a sequel to The Famished Road. Okri, a Nigerian born writer, continues the theme from The Famished Road of the journey of a spirit child living in an African village ravaged by poverty and suffering in a modern day Africa. It is an incredible exploration of the human spirit enveloped by conflicting and invisible powers.

The narrator in this novel is Azaro, the spirit child, who moves from the spirit world and then back to the physical world. Throughout the narrative we are exposed to the nuances of the demonic world with the realities of day-to-day living that includes coping with corruption and the imbalance of the power between the poor and the rich with a significant amount of political intrigue. It is magical and eerie at the same time. Okri deftly brings in the African traditions with a richness and easy to understand descriptions of the practices of these traditions.

As I read this novel I could feel the sun, hear the birds, see the many kinds of butterflies fluttering around while being constantly aware of the natural habitat of this African village; Okri awakens these senses through his lively prose.

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