SOAS University of London

About SOAS

Mr Ben Okri OBE

Ben Okri

Ben Okri has brought the essence of Nigerian storytelling to a worldwide literary audience. A novelist and poet of great critical acclaim, he has made a significant contribution to the contemporary African literary canon.

Mr Okri’s novel The Famished Road won the 1991 Booker Prize for Fiction. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been awarded an OBE as well as numerous international prizes. These include the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Chianti Ruffino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He spent his early childhood in south London, and later attended the University of Essex for a time. He is a vice-president of the English Centre of International PEN and was presented with a Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. He lives in London.

A commitment to work with deep regional roots but a global reach are among SOAS’ core values. This is certainly evident in the writing of Mr Okri, whose ascent to the heights of the literary world is based on his ability to write books that stem from an African storytelling tradition yet resonate with a worldwide audience.