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Ben Okri



Ben Okri is a member of the Urhobo people.[1] He was born in Minna in west central Nigeria to Grace and Silver Okri in 1959.[1] His father Silver moved his family to London so that Silver could study law on a scholarship.[1] Ben thus spent his earliest years in London including some primary school. In 1968 Silver moved his family back to Nigeria where he practiced law in Lagos, providing free or discounted services for those who could not afford it.[1] This would later provide inspirational writing material for Ben’s fiction.[1] Ben was constantly being withdrawn from various schools so he continued his education largely at home in Lagos.[1] He finished high school and got a job at a paint store.[1] After failing to get entry to University he began writing articles on social and political issues, but these never found a publisher.[1] He then wrote short stories based on those articles, and some were published in women’s journals and evening papers.[1] At age 19 he completed his first novel Flowers and Shadows (1980), written in the tradition of Realism.[1]

In 1978 Ben came back to England on a government grant to study comparative literature, embarking his studies at the University of Essex.[2] Ben had little money and often slept on floors and was unable to complete his degree for lack of funds.[1] He was a poetry editor of West Africa and worked also for the BBC.[1] In 1984 one of his stories was selected by Peter Ackroyd in the PEN New Fiction contest.[1


Flowers and Shadows (novel); Longman, 1980
The Landscapes Within (novel); Longman, 1981
Incidents at the Shrine (novel); Heinemann, 1986
Stars of the New Curfew (short stories); Secker & Warburg, 1988
The Famished Road (novel); Cape, 1991
An African Elegy (poetry); Cape, 1992
Songs of Enchantment (novel); Cape, 1993
Astonishing the Gods (novel); Phoenix House, 1995
Birds of Heaven; Orion, 1995
Dangerous Love (novel); Phoenix House, 1996
A Way of Being Free (essays); Phoenix House, 1997
Infinite Riches (novel); Phoenix House, 1998
Mental Fight (poetry); Phoenix House, 1999
In Arcadia (novel); Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002
Starbook (novel); Rider, 2007
Tales of Freedom (short stories); Rider, 2009
A Time for New Dreams (essays); Rider, 2011

1. Petri Liukkonen, Books & Writers.
2. Anita Sethi, TheNational, Sep 1, 2011
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