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This review is from: The Famished Road (Paperback)
Firstly, this book demands a bit of persistence. Okri begins with a series of hallucinatory passages as we follow the picaresque adventures of 'spirit child' Azaro. These adventures are pretty inconsequential, while the only reason he is a spirit child seems to be as a metaphor for Nigeria, as revealed towards the end: "Our country is an abiku country. Like the spirit-child, it keeps coming and going. One day it will decide to remain. It will become strong."
However, once the political parties descend on the ghetto, and once Azaro's dad takes it into his mind to become a boxer, the book gains direction and pace, and becomes a fascinating read. Even the spirits seem to gain more purpose. You finally begin to gain a sense of the strain that poverty places on the family, and the struggles that the country as a whole faces. Perhaps the spirits and magical realism are there to lessen the impact of such a tragic story.
As Azaro's dad fails to make much difference to the country despite his vision his ultimate insight into the reason comes as we near the book's end. "It is not death that human beings are most afraid of, it is love."