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The moment before the world changed and innocence was lost – Ben Okri’s breathtaking novel about life in the time immediately before the arrival of the Atlantic slavers restores the full vibrancy of a lost history to his Nigerian homeland.
Two lovers meet for the first time. One is the son of a King, struggling to find his place in the world, the other is the gifted daughter of a master craftsman from a famous but secretive tribe. The young people meet accidentally, just for a moment, by the river. They vow to meet again. When the girl fails to show up at the arranged time, the Prince begins a search for her that takes him into the heart of the secretive tribe, and gives his own enemies the chance they have been hoping for to destroy him.
Mysterious ships are glimpsed, like ghosts, on the horizon, hidden in bays, glanced between trees in the forest. A white wind begins to blow through the world. And with it, things begin to disappear, song, stories, sculptures, and finally people.
The book was previously published as Starbook in 2008. It has been substantially rewritten. The first reception of the book did not reference the slavery aspects or saw them as allegorical. This re-publishing is a chance to put that right in the light of contemporary acknowledgement of historical and current injustices.
‘Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three – literature, culture and vision – are profoundly interwoven’ Ali Smith
‘Where fiction’s master of enchantments stares down a real horror, and without blinking or flinching, produces a work of beauty, grace and uncommon power’ Marlon James on The Freedom Artist