As one of Britain’s foremost poets, Ben Okri is rightly acclaimed for his use of language. And as a Booker Prize winning novelist, this skill was shown to particular effect in both Starbook (his most recent work) and in The Famished Road.
In Tales of Freedom he brings both poetry and story together in a fascinating new form, using writing and image pared down to their essentials, where haiku and story meet. Thus we discover Pinprop, the slave to an old couple lost in a clearing, who holds the keys to the universe in his quirky hands. Then there is the beautifully dressed black Russian on the train, helping to film a new version of ‘Eugene Onegin’. Later, in the chaos of the aftermath of war, orphaned children paint mysterious shapes of bulls, birds, hybrid creatures, and we wonder if grief has unhinged them into genius…And who is that woman, who hardly speaks, who presses a tiny flower into the palm of the young boy on the bus, and then leaves his life forever?
Tales of Freedom offers a haunting necklace of images which flash and sparkle as the light shines on them. Quick and stimulating to read, but slowly burning in the memory, they offer a different, more transcendent way of looking at our extreme, gritty world – and show the wealth of freedom that’s available beyond the confines of our usual perceptions.
What the critics say…
Moments of genuine poetry and insight – Guardian
Beautifully distilled…these tales are full of simple, elegant description…Rarely, perhaps, has the love of ideas been expressed as simply and unpretentiously – Glasgow Herald
Tales of Freedom may transport into regions of untold rapture – Telegraph