I’ve never been a massive fan of fantasy genre books (Ahem… with the exception of Harry Potter) but the Famished Road is well off the scale on the fantasy realms. Telling the story of Azaro, young spirit child, in a Nigerian village it’s a trippy ride back and forth from reality to the spirit world to dreams and you’re not always quite sure where you are.
The world in which Azaro has decided to make the break into for good (no longer wanting to be a spirit child who will die in a few years and devastate his parents) is a developing society where capitalism, politics, urbanisation and poverty form a melting pot – chaotic and messy even without the trippy spirit scenes.
Azaro’s view of the politicians who come to the village has a child like innocence aboutwho and what these people are, but he is then the person to work out that the free milk given out by the politicians is what’s making all the villagers ill and how the milk event signified the start of the political changes ahead.
“The milk and its peculiar night growths were my singular memories of that Saturday when politics made its first public appearance in our lives.”
The book is long (over 500 pages) and I found the extensive scenes of spirits hard work to read and ended up skipping a few pages here and there trying to get back to reality. However the book does have a number of snippets of wisdom that resonated with me and I did enjoy the parts which were slightly more grounded.
The view of the spirit children on humans:
“We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see.”
Some fatherly advice:
“Learn to drink my son. A man must be able to hold his drink because drunkenness is sometimes necessary in this difficult life.”
And on the whole:
“Grow wherever life puts you down.”