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Ben Okri has published many books including The Famished Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1991. His work has been translated into 26 languages and has won numerous international prizes including the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Africa, the Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the Chianti Ruffino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize and the Premio Grinzane Cavour Prize.
The recipient of many honorary doctorates, he is a vice-president of the English Centre of International PEN and was presented the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum for his outstanding contribution to the Arts and cross-cultural understanding in 1995.
He has been a Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge and is an honorary fellow of Mansfield College, Cambridge. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1987 he was awarded an OBE in 2001. He was born in Nigeria, and lives in London.
Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
We haven’t had a new Ben Okri for some five years so this is something of a celebration. Sadly it is not quite magical enough, not in the same league as his magnificent The Famished Road. Charmingly written with an authentically dreamlike quality in short sections, it sweeps you along with a group of people making a TV documentary about a journey to Arcadia, Greece, while actually going from Paris to Switzerland. Or are they? Nothing is certain in this book. There is a short, sharp section on meeting the devil which is outstanding and some beautiful descriptions of landscapes. A fine book but perhaps a little light for such a great author. ~ Sarah Broadhurst P.S. - The Age of Magic was awarded the Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2014 but we still love it! Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
A beautiful collection of stories from the Booker Prize winner. He mixes poetry and story together to create some magical tales. The perfect book to read on a journey as the stories are quick to read and highly enjoyable. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. He is born into a world of poverty, ignorance and injustice, but Azaro awakens with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro's loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus's story. Despite belonging to a spirit world made of enchantment, where there is no suffering, Azaro chooses to stay in the land of the Living: to feel it, endure it, know it and love it. This is his story.
An environmental fairytale made for our times, written to be read by adults and children, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Famished Road. Mangoshi lives with her mum and dad in a village near the forest. When her mum becomes ill, Mangoshi knows only one thing can help her - a special flower that grows deep in the forest. The little girl needs all her courage when she sets out alone to find and bring back the flower, and all her kindness to overpower the dangers she encounters on the quest. Ben Okri brings the power of his mystic vision to a timely story that weaves together wonder, adventure and environmentalism.
Journey between the land of the living and the spirit world in the magical Booker Prize-winning novel 'So long as we are alive, so long as we feel, so long as we love, everything in us is an energy we can use' The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. He is born into a world of poverty, ignorance and injustice, but Azaro awakens with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro's loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus's story. Despite belonging to a spirit world made of enchantment, where there is no suffering, Azaro chooses to stay in the land of the Living: to feel it, endure it, know it and love it. This is his story. 'In a magnificent feat of sustained imaginative writing, Okri spins a tale that is epic and intimate at the same time. The Famished Road rekindled my sense of wonder. It made me, at age 50, look at the world through the wide eyes of a child' Michael Palin
Packed with ideas and inspiration, The Mystery Feast offers numerous pathways into the magical world of storytelling. Beginning with a poem, 'All we do', Booker prize-winning novelist Ben Okri presents his considered thoughts on the purpose and meaning of stories, concluding with a series of condensed 'Notes to the modern storyteller'. The collection is completed with a 'stoku' - a brief tale on the theme. Based on decades of honing his art, this stimulating booklet gives a glimpse into the mind of a master of contemporary storytelling. 'In every moment, we are part of the infinite stories that the universe is telling us and that we are telling the universe.'
A powerful collection of new and recently completed poems by Ben Okri covering topics of the day, such as the refugee crisis, racism, Obama, the Grenfell Tower fire, and the Corona outbreak. In our times of crisis The mind has its powers This book brings together many of Ben Okri's most acclaimed and politically charged poems. Some of them, like 'Grenfell Tower, June 2017', are already familiar. Published in the Financial Times less than ten days after the fire, it was played more than 6 million times on Channel 4's Facebook page, and was retweeted by thousands on Twitter. 'Notre-Dame is Telling Us Something' was first read on BBC Radio 4, in the aftermath of the cathedral's near destruction. It spoke eloquently of the despair that was felt around the world. In 'shaved head poem', Ben Okri wrote of the confusion and anxiety felt as the world grappled with a health crisis unprecedented in our times. 'Breathing the Light' was his response to the events of summer 2020, when a black man died beneath the knee of a white policeman, a tragedy sparking a movement for change. These poems, and others including poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa, Barack Obama, Amnesty and more, make this a uniquely powerful collection that blends anger and tenderness with Ben Okri's inimitable vision.
An epic poem touching on issues of racism, intolerance and environmental destructions from Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri. There is much to celebrate in the human journey so far - art in all its forms, advances made in the fields of technology and medicine and, for many of us, the miracle of freedom. But there is also much to regret - racism, intolerance, the destruction of our environment, the reality and the legacy of slavery. In this long, sustained consideration of the state we find ourselves in, Ben Okri invokes the past to explain the present, and sings out a message of hope. The future is still ours to make. This epic poem, an anthem for the twenty-first century, first appeared in The Times in January 1999. Its message could hardly be more relevant to our present condition. Discover this revised edition of an inspiring and extraordinarily tender work. 'Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three - literature, culture and vision - are profoundly interwoven' Ali Smith
Poems of living and loving from Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri. Freedom is the most precious commodity in the world. In this powerful collection, the celebrated novelist, essayist, dramatist and poet, Ben Okri, explores the beauty contained in each one of us - the freedom of our spirit, the child within. He recalls the death of his father, the sacrifices of his mother, the hidden river of Edinburgh, falling in love. He writes about Virgil and Mozambique, about ringing the bell for freedom, the dreams of Calliope and the full moon. He enters the fifth circle, sings of the roses of spring, and aligns the pyramids to the magic stars. This is a rich, joyful, exciting collection for everyone who loves Ben Okri's vibrant style, and a perfect introduction to new readers of his poetry. 'Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three - literature, culture and vision - are profoundly interwoven' Ali Smith'A work of beauty, grace and uncommon power' Marlon James on The Freedom Artist
The third book in the epic trilogy published for the first time in Vintage In the chaotic world of his African village, the spirit-child Azaro still watches the tumultous and tender lives of the Living; of his father who has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and of his mother who battles for justice. This final chapter in Azaro's adventures is a explosive and haunting climax to this masterful trilogy.
Topical and timely, Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri's new collection of short stories blur parallel realities and walk the line between darkness and magic. Is what you see all there is? Look again. Playful, frightening, even shocking - the stories in this collection blur the lines between illusion and reality. This is a writer at the height of his power, making the reader think, making them laugh, and sometimes making them want to look away while holding their gaze. Stories here are set in London, in Byzantium, in the ghetto, in the Andes, in a printer's shop in Spain. The characters include a murderer, a writer, a detective, a man in a cave, a man in a mirror, two little boys, a prison door, and the author himself. There are twenty-three stories in all. Each one will make you wonder if what you see in the world is all there is...
One of 2019's most anticipated novels in THE TIMES, IRISH TIMES and GUARDIAN. 'Where fiction's master of enchantments stares down a real horror, and without blinking or flinching, produces a work of beauty, grace and uncommon power' MARLON JAMES, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2015. An impassioned plea for freedom and justice, set in a world uncomfortably like our own, by the Man Booker-winner Ben Okri. In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner? When Amalantis disappears, her lover Karnak goes looking for her. He searches desperately at first, then with a growing realization. To find Amalantis, he must first understand the meaning of her question. Karnak's search leads him into a terrifying world of lies, oppression and fear at the heart of which lies the Prison. Then Karnak discovers that he is not the only one looking for the truth. The Freedom Artist is an impassioned plea for justice and a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society. In Ben Okri's most significant novel since the Booker Prize-winning The Famished Road, he delivers a powerful and haunting call to arms. 'Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three - literature, culture and vision - are profoundly interwoven' ALI SMITH.
As one of Britain's foremost poets, Ben Okri brings both poetry and story together, paring writing and image down to their essentials. This significant title story 'The Comic Destiny' forms the centrepiece of this collection, complemented by thirteen magical stokus. In his new introduction Ben Okri describes it as a talisman, an alchemic instigator for much of his later work. The stoku is a blend of story and haiku. And thirteen, according to the author, is the number of liberation. All these stories are about freedom. They flow easily, but burn slowly. And they offer the possibility of freedom beyond the confines of our usual perception. 'Moments of genuine insight and poetry' Guardian. 'Okri's writing has a light-as-air elegance, yet its seriousness keeps the stories gravity bound' New Statesman.
A collection of exquisitely crafted essays by Ben Okri, one of Britain's foremost poets, and a Booker Prize-winning novelist, that explore such diverse themes as childhood and creativity, beauty, censorship, art and politics. 'A single line,' writes Ben Okri, 'can lead the mind to terraces of contemplation. Naturally it depends on the line and the view.' This is a collection of exquisitely crafted essays on themes as diverse as childhood and creativity, beauty, censorship, art and politics. They are responses to the world and the times we live in. They ask unsettling questions. They provoke thoughts and they make us dream. 'Profound and enchanting' The Times. 'There can be no mistaking Okri's passion and intelligence. A powerful piece of work' Sunday Telegraph.
In Rise Like Lions, Booker Prize winning writer Ben Okri has compiled a collection of poems that celebrate the many voices of politics, from polemics and rallying cries to lyrics and meditations. Many of these poems have resonated with readers over lifetimes and through generations, from William Blake to Marvin Gaye. In exploring the impact political poems have on ideas, vision, protest, change and truth, Okri demonstrates how the need for this strand of poetry is as great as it has ever been, and its inspiration just as powerful.
Twenty-five stories, twenty-five paintings, five years to write, ten years to paint. This is an extraordinary collaboration between artist and artist: the Booker Prize-winning writer Ben Okri and the painter Rosemary Clunie. Together they have created a world, and peopled it with dreams. Twenty-five fairy tales for adults, these narratives are a response to our times, informed by our world but not limited by it, imaginative, enchanting, haunting - both prescient and prophetic. Twenty-five original paintings, beautiful, playful, intimate, dreamlike, these works pull you in to a land of colour and vision. Who can say which came first, the word or image, when both grew together out of a long friendship and a creative symbiosis. What if Calvino and Magritte had combined inspiration? What if we could see our world again with a child's eyes? What if there really is a magic lamp?
From Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri: a voyage into the enduring myth of Arcadia and the mysterious painting it inspired. A lyrical novel about art and enlightenment that takes the reader from Waterloo Station in London to Paris and a four hundred year old enigma, the painting by Nicolas Poussin known as 'Et in Arcadia Ego'. 'We never write the book we think we are writing. We never read the book we think we are reading' BEN OKRI.
From Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri: twelve of his most controversial non-fiction pieces form this collection on the theme of freedom. Ranging from the personal to the analytical, covering subjects such as art, politics, storytelling and creativity, A WAY OF BEING FREE confirms Okri's place as one of the most inspiring of contemporary writers. 'All I wanted to do was to remind myself at all times to just sing my song. To just sing it through all the difficulties and silences' BEN OKRI.