Literary Birthday – 15 March – Ben Okri

Happy Birthday, Ben Okri, born 15 March 1959.

10 Ben Okri Quotes

  1. Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.
  2. The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.
  3. 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.
  4. Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery.
  5. The magician and the politician have much in common: they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing.
  6. The best writing is not about the writer, the best writing is absolutely not about the writer, it’s about us, it’s about the reader.
  7. This is what you must be like. Grow wherever life puts you down.
  8. 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.
  9. You see, I was told stories, we were all told stories as kids in Nigeria. We had to tell stories that would keep one another interested, and you weren’t allowed to tell stories that everybody else knew. You had to dream up new ones.
  10. This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.

Ben Okri is a Nigerian poet and novelist. He is considered one of the foremost African authors in the post-modern and post-colonial traditions. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Famished Road.

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 15th March 2014