cover image Dangerous Love

Dangerous Love

Ben Okri. Other Press, $18.99 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-63542-266-5

Booker winner Okri (The Famished Road) offers American readers a sublime revision of a novel of his that was first published in the U.K., in 1982, under the title The Landscapes Within. In the early 1970s, a young man named Omovo has dreams of becoming an artist after the Nigerian civil war. Fellow residents of his low-income housing compound, all of whom attempt to find their way in a violent society, mock him as “painter boy,” and his intolerant father, Okur, threatens to throw him out. What’s more, his artwork is stolen and he’s distressed over the murder of a local girl. He begins an affair with an unhappy married woman named Ifeyiwa, with whom he’s able to share his deepest feelings and dreams of the future, but threats from Ifeyiwa’s husband hang over their heads. Okri immerses the reader in the quotidian struggles of his characters, such as elderly painter and mentor Dr. Okocha, and Omovo’s stepmother, Blackie, who treads gingerly around Okur in her attempts to forge a maternal bond with Omovo. Okri’s beautiful prose has the cadence of poetry and a singular voice (“An uncertain rain drizzled. The sky was in a bad mood”), and he conveys the lives of his supporting characters with specificity and economy. With its casting of a microcosm in epic proportions, this stands as one of Okri’s most powerful and accessible works. (Feb.)