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Head of Zeus
The Freedom Artist
The Freedom Artist by Ben Okri

One of 2019's most anticipated novels in THE TIMES, IRISH TIMES and GUARDIAN.

'Where fiction's master of enchantments stares down a real horror, and without blinking or flinching, produces a work of beauty, grace and uncommon power' MARLON JAMES, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2015.

An impassioned plea for freedom and justice, set in a world uncomfortably like our own, by the Man Booker-winner Ben Okri.

In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner?

When Amalantis disappears, her lover Karnak goes looking for her. He searches desperately at first, then with a growing realization. To find Amalantis, he must first understand the meaning of her question.

Karnak's search leads him into a terrifying world of lies, oppression and fear at the heart of which lies the Prison. Then Karnak discovers that he is not the only one looking for the truth.

The Freedom Artist is an impassioned plea for justice and a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society. In Ben Okri's most significant novel since the Booker Prize-winning The Famished Road, he delivers a powerful and haunting call to arms.

'Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three – literature, culture and vision – are profoundly interwoven' ALI SMITH.

Head of Zeus * Fiction
07 Feb 2019 * 256pp * £4.99 * 9781788549585
Ben Okri's most significant novel since his Man Booker Prize-winning masterpiece The Famished Road, The Freedom Artist weaves together ancient myth and modern politics for an impassioned story primed for the post-truth age. A story of love and loss, fiercely told and impossible to ignore'
Waterstones, 'The Best Books to Look Out For in 2019'
'A multi-layered allegorical narrative that cuts to the heart of our current political and cultural malaise, while maintaining a mythical, mesmeric flavour that makes the reader feel these are stories they have always known ... It's savagely political, disturbing and fiercely optimistic, the deeply felt work of a writer who refuses to stop asking the hardest questions'
'Okri creates a chilling atmosphere ... Okri's rhythmic, folk tale-like prose is beguiling'
Sunday Times
'These ideas are virtuosically juggled in a series of short enigmatic chapters ... The story does not so much unfold as become manifest ... The Freedom Artist has a compelling power and energy that won't let the reader go. Or fall by the wayside'
'A heady jumble of influence and inspiration, a tapestry of biblical reference, mythology, folklore and fable. The lyrical simplicity of Okri's prose, with its short sentences and chapters, only heightens the power of the novel's political message'
Financial Times
In a world not unlike our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested. Her lover goes looking for her. An examination of post-truth society and justice from the Booker-winning author of The Famished Road'
The Times, Biggest Novels of 2019
The new novel from the Booker winner is set in a world of oppression and imprisonment – one rather like our own'
Guardian, 'What You'll Be Reading This Year'
'Fiction's master enchanter stares down a real horror, and without blinking or flinching, produces a work of beauty, grace and uncommon power'
Marlon James
'Okri's trademark magical literary thinking is not broke and he is not about to fix it ... The Freedom Artist is an adventure story and an intense trip through the most esoteric corners of the human mind. It's also a beautiful and timely appeal for the importance of books, subversive stories and love'
The Times
'A novel for our times ... Okri takes us into a world where the very concept of truth is barely conceivable ... This is uncomfortably close to the bone'
'Satirical and carnivalesque elements entertain ... Okri's treatment of mass hysteria is inventive'
'The Booker winner's best for some time, set in a near-future world of oppressive official spying ... Often haunting and beguiling'
Sunday Times, Best Literary Novels of 2019
'One gets the sense that [Ben Okri] is trying to impart an essential, urgent truth about the state of the world today, but - as he warned at the beginning - it is shrouded in mystery ... What comes across strongly is the power of words - and by extension, the wordsmith - to wake people from their sleep and look at the world through fresh eyes'
Straits Times
'A return to form for its Man Booker-winning author, this is a timely tale of shady government forces, post-truth discourse and the slow erosion of justice'
World of Cruising
'Ardent fans of Okri's fiction and poetry will rejoice in knowing that the master's descriptive capacities and unmatched ability to conjure uncommon worlds are as vital as ever'
Nigerian Guardian
'When the characters in The Freedom Artist ["upwake"], a cerebral novel turns into one with heart and soul'
The National (UAE)
'Okri suffuses his parable in the sonorously repetitious language of myth, mysticism and fairytale'
'Visionary and social commentator Ben Okri creates a powerful picture of a traumatised humanity: part existential excavation, part expression of contemporary political culture, this is a world where books have disappeared, and a woman is arrested for asking a question. Lyrical, bold and resonant'
The Lady
'The story is complex, layered, and subtle in its critique of how modern society warps our individual interpretations of our collective reality. This is a book with which to sit, reflect, and engage time and time again. Each read teases out another truth, another metaphor, another example of what it means to feel restricted by social norms'
Sierra Club
Ben Okri
Ben Okri
Ben Okri was born in Minna, Nigeria. His childhood was divided between Nigeria, where he saw first-hand the consequences of war, and London. He has won many awards over the years, including the Booker Prize for Fiction, and is also an acclaimed essayist, playwright, and poet. In 2019 Astonishing the Gods was named as one of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'.
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