Review: The Freedom Artist by Ben Okri | The Fountain
The latest novel from Nigerian-born writer Ben Okri, whose best known work is the Booker prize-winning novel The Famished Road, is a frightening study of free will, mass hysteria and censorship. Set in an unnamed dystopia, it focuses on two intertwined storylines – the main one focuses on Karnak, whose lover, Amalanta, has been captured by the regime for daring to ask forbidden questions, and the other concerns Mirababa, a young boy sequestered in a sarcophagus as part of his inheritance from his grandfather. The society in which they live has become illiterate, and books have all but disappeared, and the history and folklore of the area have been rewritten by the ruling regime. Karnak ultimately joins forces with Ruslana, the daughter of a missing bookshop owner, to find their imprisoned loved ones, and in doing so they slowly uncover the lies, fear and oppression the regime has subjected their society to.