Compiled by Orjighigh Alôm
The name Ben Okri has become synonymous with magical realism, and The Famished Road. When one speaks of the genre of magical realism, one does not go far before his name springs up. But beyond the genre he has come to represent and his most popular offering to the literary world, little else is known about Ben Okri. So below are a few things you probably didn’t know about this great mind:
1. Ben Okri was born in Minna, Niger State, North-Central Nigeria, to an Urhobo father and an Igbo mother, in 1959.
2. Okri attended the University of Essex, England, where he obtained a B. A. in Comparative Literature, after failing to gain admission to study physics in Nigeria owing to his being too young.
3. While he is mostly known for his prose, Ben Okri is a man of many creative talents. He is a poet, essayist, aphorist, short story writer, playwright, and scriptwriter. In fact, he was a port before a novelist.
4. Ben Okri has over twenty books published to his name, eight of them novels. His first novel, Flowers and Shadows was published in 1980. These works have been translated into twenty-seven languages too.
5. Okri has won many international awards including the Booker Prize in 1991, as well as the Commonwealth Writers prize for Africa and the Aga Kahn Prize for Fiction.
6. Ben Okri has invented a new form of storytelling which he calls the Stoku: a blend of the short story and the haiku.
7. While his philosophical influences include Francis Bacon and Michel de Montaigne, the oral traditions of his people in addition to literary influences like Aesop, Shakespeare, and Coleridge have shaped his literary awareness.
How interesting! Who knew Ben Okri wanted to study Physics?! What else shocked you about the man?
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