Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Ben Okri. Photo credit: David Levenson / Getty.

Ben Okri has a new novel forthcoming in January 2019. The Nigerian novelist-poet-essayist, who is the only black African to receive the Booker Prize, in 1991 for his The Famished Road, had the 256-page book rights acquired by Head of Zeus for release in the UK in February 2019, by HarperCollins for release in Australia on 21 January 2019, and by Jonathan Ball Publishers for release in South Africa in March 2019. It will further be available from Head of Zeus as an e-book. The Freedom Artist has been called Okri’s “most significant novel since The Famished Road.”

Okri, whose fiction has been compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s and Salman Rushdie’s, published his first novel Flowers and Shadows (1980) at 21. He followed it with The Landscapes Within (1981), Songs of Enchantment (1993), Astonishing the Gods (1995), Dangerous Love (1996), Infinite Riches (1998), In Arcadia (2002), Starbook (2007), and The Age of Magic (2014).

Winning the Booker Prize for The Famished Road (1991) made him the then youngest writer to receive the prize; for the novel he also won the 1993 Chianti Ruffino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize and the 1994 Premio Grinzane Cavour in Italy. He has further received the 1987 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa Region for Incidents at the Shrine, the 1987 Aga Khan Prize for Fiction for The Dream Vendor’s August, a 1995 Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum, and the 2000 Premio Palmi in Italy for Dangerous Love, and was shortlisted for the 1988 Guardian Fiction Prize for Stars of the New Curfew.

The Freedom Artist cover by Head of Zeus. Image from Booktopia.

Here is a description of the novel from HarperCollins:

An impassioned plea for freedom and justice, set in a world uncomfortably like our own.

In Ben Okri’s most significant novel since the Man Booker-winning The Famished Road, a young woman is arrested for speaking four simple words – Who is the Prisoner? This question resonates throughout the novel, and by the end it has become the question every reader has to ask themselves. The answer is implicit in the revelation at the heart of the story.

After her disappearance, a man begins to search for the woman, because he loves her. He searches desperately at first, and then with growing realization. And we journey with him as he searches, through a frightening, disintegrating world of lies, and violence, and fear. At the heart of this disturbing world lies the Prison.

To survive, and to answer the girl’s question, the young man, like all of us, has to accept the challenge and fight back.

The Freedom Artist is a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society. It’s a powerful call to arms.

In a statement to The Bookseller, the book’s UK publisher Head of Zeus said: “Okri’s latest novel is a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society. Weaving together myth and dystopia, he has crafted a powerful call to arms to defend our liberty. It is angry, political, intriguing and significant.”

Okri has described the book as “a novel I have been wanting to write for a long time, a fist of light against a wall of darkness.”

We will bring you more on The Freedom Artist.

Tags: , , , ,

Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ben Okri to headline Berlin’s African Book Festival 2019. - 2018/12/12

    […] this festival Okri will be presenting his newest novel The Freedom Artist (Head of Zeus) a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth […]

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Win Copies of Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf in Narrative Landscape Press’ Ongoing Competition

marlon james - Black leopard, red wolf

Narrative Landscape Press, the Nigerian publishers of Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf, recently announced a competition which will see successful […]

Rania Mamoun’s Short Story Collection, Thirteen Months of Sunrise, Forthcoming from Comma Press, Is a Complex, Moving Illumination of Contemporary Sudan

rania mamoun (2)

Manchester-based independent publisher Comma Press will be releasing the Sudanese writer Rania Mamoun’s short story collection Thirteen Months of Sunrise. […]

2031 | Y’I Oche | Fiction

Highway 1200 x 630

  “It’s becoming too dangerous,” Laila said with a pardonable expression of fear. For a minute she sat stone silent, […]

Enter for the 2019 AFREADA x Africa Writes Competition, with a Writing Prompt from Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities

afreada-obioma graph

With the 2019 Africa Writes Festival coming in July, AFREADA magazine has announced its third annual contest in partnership with […]

Nozizwe Cynthia Jele, Nthikeng Mohlele, Imraan Coovadia Lead Diverse Longlist for Sunday Times’ Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

cynthia jele, nthikeng mohlele

Sunday Times newspaper has announced the longlists for the Alan Paton Award and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. Founded in […]

Submit to the $12,000 Graywolf Press Africa Prize for Novel Manuscripts, Judged by A. Igoni Barrett

igoni a. barrett

The 2019 Graywolf Press Africa Prize is now open to submissions. The award, launched in 2017 by the publishing house […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.