In 1991, The Famished Road won the Booker Prize for Fiction Award and the author, Ben Okri, 32 at the time, became the youngest author to win that Award.
Ben Okri is a Nigerian poet and novelist, born in Minna, Nigeria to Grace and Silver Okri in 1959. He spent his early years in London, where his father moved to study law at the time. Ben went to his primary school in Peckham before the family moved back to Nigeria in 1968.
Earlier in his life, way before he realized his call was towards poetry, he wanted to study a short university program in physics. He was rejected on the ground that he was too young, only 14, and unqualified.
He began to write with a focus on social and political issues. But these articles failed to pique the interest of the publishers. However, some of those articles were published in women journals and evening papers as short stories.
Okri’s writing desire intensified when he found himself homeless in England after his scholarship funding failed to keep him in Essex University where he studied Comparative Literature. In his own words, the trying time is “very, very important” to his work.
In 1980, at 21, Okri published his debut novel Flowers and Shadows. From 1983 to 1986, he worked with West Africa Magazine as a poetry editor and also a contributor to BBC World Service 1983-1985. His career soared in 1991 when his novel The Famished Road won the Booker Prize for Fiction.
Between 1980 – 2021, Ben Okri has a total of twenty-six works to his name; novels, poetry, essays, short stories, films and online fiction.
The Famished Road – 1991
Starbook – 2007
A way of being free – 1997
A time for New Dream – 2011
Booker Prize for Fiction (The Famished Road – 1991)
Some Of Ben Okri’s Quotes
Reading, therefore, is a co-production between writer and reader. The simplicity of this tool is astounding. So little, yet out of it whole worlds, eras, characters, continents, people never encountered before, people you wouldn’t care to sit next to in a train, people that don’t exist, places you’ve never visited, enigmatic fates, all come to life in the mind, painted into existence by the reader’s creative powers. In this way the creativity of the writer calls up the creativity of the reader. Reading is never passive.Ben Okri
The magician and the politician have much in common: they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing.Ben Okri
Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.Ben Okri
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.Ben Okri
Don’t despair too much if you see beautiful things destroyed, if you see them perish. Because the best things are always growing in secret.Ben Okri
The higher the artist, the fewer the gestures. The fewer the tools, the greater the imagination. The greater the will, the greater the secret failure.Ben Okri
Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide.Ben Okri