This is the Booker Prize winning novel by the Nigerian writer Ben Okri, and while he was still only about 30 when it was published, it’s his third published novel. It’s one of the longer Booker Prize winners at over 500 pages (Sacred Hunger, The Luminaries, Wolf Hall, Possession, The Blind Assassin) and it takes place sometime in the 20th century in a country that seems a lot like Nigeria, but is not named. The book has a cosmology to it that involves reincarnation, parallel worlds, a spirit world, visions, and other dreamlike, mythpoeic, magical realism — depending on your wont). We follow our narrator, a young boy, who’s father is a would be boxer as they come to terms with the modern world through the small, close view of their village. This is a village where corrupt politicians and local powerbrokers vie for control of the people, their voting power, their lumpen power as a collective force, and their buying power, while also reinforcing the violent elements of control. This is a novel about power vacuums (primarily left by colonialism) and who will occupy them. The novel is beautifully written, though at times, I found myself drifting away from its narrative, and the imagery and mysticism of it is both intoxicating and somewhat distracting. Because of these ideas, and the subject and plot, I felt like I was caught between worlds of Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka and the various differences between the books of theirs I have read. This is a book that feel like it could be written anytime between 1950 and 2020, and that’s an amazing testament to the writing, and perhaps a sad testament to our world.