Ben Okri to speak at the University of Leicester
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 26 September 2011
The prize-winning Nigerian poet, short story writer and novelist, Ben Okri, OBE, FRSL, is to give the first Annual Creative Writing Lecture at the University of Leicester on Wednesday 19th October at 6pm.
Ben Okri is acclaimed as one of the finest African writers in the postcolonialist tradition. He is the author of such acclaimed novels as the Booker-winning The Famished Road (1991), In Arcadia (2007), and Incidents at the Shrine (1986), celebrated collections of short fiction, including Stars of the New Curfew (1988), and collections of essays such as his latest, A Time For New Dreams (2011). He has won many of the world’s most prestigious literary awards, including the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Aga Khan Prize.
Ben Okri is a member of the Urhobo people. His family moved to England when he was a baby, so that his father could study law. They returned to Nigeria when Ben was aged seven, and much of his early writing reflects the violence he witnessed during the Nigerian civil war.
He returned to England in 1978 to study for a degree in Comparative Literature at Essex University, though lack of funds meant he never completed his studies.
Despite this early setback, he went on eventually to become a Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2001, he was awarded an OBE. He now lives in London.
Whilst Okri’s work shows a direct engagement with classic Western literature, he has also experimented with a variety of new literary forms, as well as drawing on the myths and beliefs from his West African heritage. Often compared with the magic realists, he has rejected this, describing himself as working with ‘dream logic narrative.’
Dr Harry Whitehead, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University commented:
"We are so honoured to have such a towering figure in contemporary literature as Ben Okri deliver our first Annual Creative Writing Lecture. His brilliant and multi-award winning novels, short fiction, poetry and non-fiction have played a significant role in proving literature’s continuing importance in articulating global culture and society. The School of English is very proud to be able to offer this unique opportunity for students, staff and the wider local community to hear the great man in person and to learn from what he will say.’
The School of English at the University of Leicester offers Creative Writing in poetry, prose and screen-writing at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and the School includes a number of Honorary Visiting Writing Fellows.
The School awards prizes in fiction and poetry and engages in an ever-expanding number of creative writing projects, including the Grassroutes: Contemporary Leicestershire Writing project and the Trans-Scriptions series, exploring issues of writing, culture and location.
Ben Okri’s lecture will take place on Wednesday 19th October, 6.00-7.00pm in the Attenborough Building Theatre. The lecture is open to the public and free of charge.
Notes to Editors: Further details are available from Dr Harry Whitehead, School of English, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 3357, email firstname.lastname@example.org