Astonishing the Gods

Other. Feb. 2022. 176p. ISBN 9781635422658. pap. $15.99. F
Making its U.S. debut, this slim but heady allegorical fable from 1995 will doubtless appeal to many of the readers who have made Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist a perennial success. Renowned for his magical realism, Okri here drops realism altogether, taking his nameless hero on an awestruck quest through a psychedelic dreamscape replete with more arcane symbols and mystical thresholds than a tarot deck, a rich surfeit of highly colored synesthetic imagery that may prove cloying for seekers who neglect to microdose. Angels, unicorns, and pan flutes are not uncommon in this mystic land, where enigma and paradox are the orders of the day, expressed in riddles and aphorisms that evoke Borges, Dante, and Lewis Carroll and ultimately tend toward a vaguely Taoist nondualism.
VERDICT For every reader who balks at the book’s New Age extravagance, another will embrace it as a sumptuous new wisdom text.
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