Monali Sahu Pathange
Department of Indian and World Literatures
School of Literary Studies
English and Foreign Languages University
Nigerian novelist Ben Okri is one of the most distinguished and interesting voices that have appeared in the contemporary African literary landscape. His Booker Prize winning novel The Famished Road depicts the story of an abiku (spirit) child, Azaro – his birth, his struggle to survive in the world of humans, and consequently his triumph over the tortures of the spirit companions by being able to thrive in the human world. Amidst this bildungsroman tale of an abiku, Okri interweaves a dense and complex web of relationships that exists between a mother and a child, a father and his son, spirits and humans and so on. The duality in Azaro’s thoughts and visions suggest a psychological dilemma that he faces and the manner in which he wades through his mental complications. The experience of Azaro could be comprehended in the light of Jacques Lacan’s notion of the “Mirror Stage” and by way of situating the Lacanian subject in the context of the novel that exemplifies magic, mystery and mayhem. The paper undertakes an attempt to read Azaro as a Lacanian figure who’s self is split between the “real” world of humans and the “irreal” world of spirits. The paper seeks to argue that like a Lacanian subject Azaro’s existence is ridden with contradictions between the desires of the present ontological status and a deeper necessity to escape into the ‘other’ world of elusive spirits.
KEYWORDS: Lacanian Subject, Ben Okri, Azaro, Abiku, Mirror Stage, Spirit World, Real and the Imaginary.