Other Literary Forms
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 37
Besides his collections of short fiction, Ben Okri has written several novels, including Flowers and Shadows (1980), The Landscapes Within (1981), The Famished Road (1991), and Infinite Riches (1998). He has also published the nonfiction work A Way of Being Free (1997).
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 60
Ben Okri has impressed his readers with his colorful, vibrant use of the English language, the power of his words and imagery, and his control over structure and motif. He received the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Africa and The Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction in 1987. He also received the Booker McConnell Prize for The Famished Road in 1991.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 87
How does the metaphor of the journey function in Ben Okri’s writing?
What is the importance of dreams in Okri’s work?
What are the literal and metaphorical functions of landscape in Okri’s fiction?
How does Okri portray encounters between African and Western cultures?
What is the symbolic importance of the abiku child in Okri’s trilogy?
How does Okri’s use of nonlinear narrative structure reinforce the themes of his work?
What narrative genres and traditions does Okri employ and transform in his novels?
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 538
Bissoondath, Neil. “Rage and Sadness in Nigeria.” Review of Stars of the New Curfew, by Ben Okri. The New York Times Book Review (August 13, 1989): 12. Bissoondath calls Okri “a natural storyteller” and especially appreciates his social commentary “on a variety of issues,” including politics in Nigeria. The stories respond sensitively to conditions not only in Africa but also, by inference, in the Third World generally. Only the final story, being totally imaginative rather than based in reality, is pointless and disappointing.
Hawley, John C. “Ben Okri’s Spirit Child: Abiku Migration and Postmodernity.” Research in African Literatures 26 (Spring, 1995): 30-39. Addresses Ben Okri’s use of the abiku, or child-spirit, narrator; discusses the background of the abiku in Nigerian culture and analyzes how Ben Okri uses the figure as a spokesman for two worlds.
Henry, Andrea. “More Magic than Realism.” Review of Infinite Riches, by Ben Okri. The Independent, August 29, 1998, p. 15. Comments on its use of fantasy and folklore; comments on the novel’s strong anticolonial message; suggests that the fantastic sense of the magical in the book is not always satisfying.
Kakutani, Michiko. “Brave New Africa Born of Nightmare.” Review of Stars of the New Curfew, by Ben Okri. The New York Times, July 28, 1989, p. C25. Kakutani interprets the stories as surreal commentary on contemporary Africa, where “social realities resemble our worst dreams” and the “people live in a state of suspended animation.” While the style is “fiercely lyrical,” Okri’s “voice needs only to expand its narrative territory to fulfill its bright promise.”
Olshan, Joseph. “Fever Dreams from Nigeria’s Troubled Soul.” Review of Stars of the New Curfew, by Ben Okri. Chicago Tribune, July 16, 1989, p. 6. In this review, Olshan calls Stars of the New Curfew a “magnificent” collection depicting Nigeria in a state of crisis. He notes Okri’s “feverishly poetic” language, frenetic characters “living on the edge of extinction,” and incidents hovering between nightmare and reality.
Quayson, Ato. Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Writing: Orality and History in the Work of Rev. Samuel Johnson, Amos Tutuola, Wole Soyinka, and Ben Okri. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. This critical study compares the work of these Nigerian writers and includes a discussion of the Nigerian oral tradition and the Yoruba peoples. Includes a bibliography and an index.
Ryan, Alan. “Ben Okri’s Modern Fetishes.” Review of Stars of the New Curfew, by Ben Okri. The Washington Post, August 7, 1989, p. 602. Ryan emphasizes the “deeply Nigerian and universal” qualities of the stories, as they depict a world without stability, where a city, without communal traditions, is a forest, and “demons dig potholes” for human travelers.
Smith, Ali. “A Treasure Beyond Dreams.” A review of Infinite Riches, by Ben Okri. The Scotsman, August 22, 1998, p. 15. Suggests that the story is a masterpiece of narrative slippage, a book full of disintegration and divisions; comments on the book’s allusions to bygone English literature.
Thomas, Maria. Review of Stars of the New Curfew, by Ben Okri. Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 24, 1989, p. 3. Thomas sees in Ben Okri “an updated [Amos] Tutuola,” who presents “an Africa of its own myths, thronged and bewitched.” Despite his black humor, Okri can be wonderful and hilarious; despite the corruption, terror, and despair, he registers hope through an indestructible “vitality.”