Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) – Worth It!

I love a book that subverts my expectations and Ben Okri’s story collection, “Prayer for the Living” is one such book. This book came highly recommended from a friend and though I was expecting the book to be excellent, the form it took was unexpected and captured my imagination and emotions.

I enjoy a compilation of short stories from time to time. The genre is not my absolute favorite, or something I reach for often, but when I have indulged I have never regretted it. I was expecting much the same from Okri, but I was pleasantly surprised. “Prayer for the Living” is not so much short stories but simply stories…right there in the title. The stories are of various lengths and subjects. Some of them connect to one another while others stand alone. They range from two pages to fifteen. Many read like parables, or stories that every time you read it, new and different things jump out at you. There are lessons, morals, hidden truths in them that cannot be fully understood or uncovered in a single reading. 

I borrowed this book from the library, but I think I may have to purchase it as I want to come back to many of these stories and chew on them anew. I love a story that helps me to see the world, people or a situation from a new angle offering fresh insight and perspective. Okri’s stories offer this time and time again throughout this collection. 

If you enjoy stories that are not necessarily obvious but offer space for interpretation and various understandings I highly recommend you pick this book up. Warning, it starts with a gut wrenching few pages, but stick with it, not all of it is as emotionally draining. Promise.  

Happy Reading!

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