Stars of the New Curfew

Stars of the New Curfew

by Ben Okri

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The central theme in this brilliant collection of African short stories is the difficulty of standing one's ground in a world where superstition, poverty and irresponsible use of power combine to destroy effective social bonds. In the title piece, an unholy mix of alcohol, oil of marijuana and chloroform called Power-Drug causes a bus crash and the deaths of seven people. Conscience-stricken, the nostrum seller who unwittingly caused the disaster flees to his old village for refuge and consolation. But there he is caught up and nearly killed in a power struggle between the town's two richest men. Back in the city, he reflects that there are few consolations for a decent man--perhaps after all the only way to survive in his country is to seek the protection of the powerful. Other stories deal with wanton destruction caused by unbridled military power, a love affair gone wrong and the passage of a palm tapper into the hereafter and back again. Okri, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Africa and the Paris Review Aga Khan prize for fiction, writes beautiful, dense prose. He is a modernist author, moving freely from realism to surrealism, but his work is consistently accessible, and remarkably effective. (July)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Born in Nigeria, Okri portrays in these stories an Africa cast adrift from its traditional values and prey to greed and violence. The narrator of ``Worlds That Flourish'' travels through a war-torn country (Nigeria during the Biafran revolt?) to visit the land of the dead. The down-and-out characters of ``In the City of Red Dust'' sell their blood to survive; meanwhile, the city erupts in celebration of the military governor's birthday. Best is the title story, about a patent medicine salesman who learns that the real madness is not in his nightmares but in the life around him. Even here, however, the reader feels little involvement in the characters' dilemmas and little interest in their fate. Okri's Africa is phantasmagoric but unmoving.-- Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.

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Random House UK
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