Ben Okri

Posted by on 12/9/2005 9:57:43 AM
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Ben Okri (born March 15, 1959) is a Nigerian poet and novelist. Having spent his early childhood in London, he and his family returned to Nigeria in 1968. He later left for England, embarking on studies at Essex University. His first novel, Flowers and Shadows, was published in 1980. Ben Okri has been awarded:- the 1987 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region, Best Book: "Incidents at the Shrine"); the 1987 Paris Review/Aga Khan Prize for Fiction (for "Incidents at the Shrine"); he was shortlisted for the 1988 The Guardian Fiction Prize (for "Stars of the New Curfew"); he won the 1991 Booker Prize for Fiction (for "The Famished Road"); the 1993 Chianti Ruffino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize ("The Famished Road"); the 1994 Italian Premio Grinzane Cavour ("The Famished Road"); the 1995 Crystal Award (World Economic Forum); he was awarded a Honorary Doctorate in 1997 by the University of Westminster, London; he received the 2000 Italian Premio Palmi (for "Dangerous Love"); he was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2001; in 2002 he was awarded a Honorary Doctorate by Essex University, England.

Ben Okri has risen to international acclaim, and he is often described as one of Africa's greatest writers. He has also been described as a magic realist, although he has shrugged off that tag. His first-hand experiences of civil war in Nigeria are said to have inspired many of his works. He writes about both the mundane and the metaphysical, the individual and the collective, and his writing enthrals the reader, drawing him/her into a world which he describes vividly, beautifully, and using an extraordinary writing style.

He has published novels, books of poetry, short stories and plays (such as 'In Exilus'); his publications include:- "Flowers and Shadows" (novel) first published by Longman, 1980; "The Landscapes Within" (novel) first published by Longman, 1981; "Incidents at the Shrine" (novel) first published by Heinemann, 1986; "Stars of the New Curfew" (short stories) first published by Secker & Warburg, 1988; "The Famished Road" (novel) first published by Cape, 1991; "An African Elegy" (poetry) first published by Cape, 1992; "Songs of Enchantment" (novel) first published by Cape, 1993; "Astonishing the Gods" (novel) first published by Phoenix House, 1995; "Birds of Heaven" first published by Orion, 1995; "Dangerous Love" (novel) first published by Phoenix House, 1996; "A Way of Being Free" (essays) first published by Phoenix House, 1997; "Infinite Riches" (novel) first published by Phoenix House, 1998; "Mental Fight" (poetry) first published by Phoenix House, 1999; "In Arcadia" (novel)first published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002;

Ben Okri is a Vice-President of the English Centre for the International PEN, an association of writers with 130 branches in over 100 countries. He is also a member of the United Kingdom's Royal National Theatre.