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Book Title: Stars of the New Curfew|
The author of the book: Ben Okri
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.69 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.3
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: August 1st 1990
ISBN 13: 9780140116021
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This collection of short stories confirms that the surreal style of The Famished Road, which consistently blurs the boundaries between the material and spirit worlds, was not a one-off. This collection includes six stories, of which four rely heavily on the same technique. So we meet an unemployed man who flees the crumbling city into the bush and almost loses himself in the spirit world ('Worlds that Flourish'); a patent-medicine salesman whose product keeps sending him into the spirit world ('Stars of the New Curfew'); a singer whose unkindness towards his dying girlfriend draws after her ('When the Lights Return'); and a palm tapper who is thrown into the other world after a fall from a tree. Okri does surreal well, but it all runs together. Of these stories, Stars of the New Curfew was the funniest, longest, and offered the most trenchant critique of a world in which everybody is on the make.
The two other stories I found powerful. In the first ('In the Shadow of War'), a young boy discovers the eclipse of human decency in wartime. The other ('In the City of Red Dust') explores the grinding misery of poverty, the way it tears people's basic decency down, but also the way people can still give of themselves in a form of grace that transcends their degradation. It is not a hopeful story, but it does show the humanity and virtues of its deeply flawed characters.
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Read information about the authorPoet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria. He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative Literature at Essex University in England.
He was poetry editor for West Africa magazine between 1983 and 1986 and broadcast regularly for the BBC World Service between 1983 and 1985. He was appointed Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge in 1991, a post he held until 1993. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1987, and was awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Westminster (1997) and Essex (2002).
His first two novels, Flowers and Shadows (1980) and The Landscapes Within (1981), are both set in Nigeria and feature as central characters two young men struggling to make sense of the disintegration and chaos happening in both their family and country. The two collections of stories that followed, Incidents at the Shrine (1986) and Stars of the New Curfew (1988), are set in Lagos and London.
In 1991 Okri was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel The Famished Road (1991). Set in a Nigerian village, this is the first in a trilogy of novels which tell the story of Azaro, a spirit child. Azaro's narrative is continued in Songs of Enchantment (1993) and Infinite Riches (1998). Other recent fiction includes Astonishing the Gods (1995) and Dangerous Love (1996), which was awarded the Premio Palmi (Italy) in 2000. His latest novels are In Arcadia (2002) and Starbook (2007).
A collection of poems, An African Elegy, was published in 1992, and an epic poem, Mental Flight, in 1999. A collection of essays, A Way of Being Free, was published in 1997. Ben Okri is also the author of a play, In Exilus.
In his latest book, Tales of Freedom (2009), Okri brings together poetry and story.
Ben Okri is a Vice-President of the English Centre of International PEN, a member of the board of the Royal National Theatre, and was awarded an OBE in 2001. He lives in London.
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