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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Ben Okri: A writer honoured
Ben Okri
Okri after his Booker win in 1991
Ben Okri, who is to be made an OBE, was born in 1959 in Lagos, Nigeria.

Though he has said his childhood significantly influenced his writing, he does not give details about that time as he believes it is best explored in his writing.

He does say that the constant presence of the civil war in Nigeria in his youth and the experience of his secondary schooling 400 miles from his family were strong influences on him.

His Booker prize-winning novel The Famished Road draws on the Nigerian belief in "spirit children" who die and are reborn constantly.

Ben Okri
Ben Okri lives and works in London
It tells the story of a spirit child called Azaro and moves easily between the real world and that of the spirits.

Okri moved to England to study at the University of Essex and has remained there ever since.

He describes London, where he lives, as the "home of literature" and though his writing is considered very African, his literary influences are Shakespeare, Dickens, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Mark Twain and the Greek legends.

He writes completely in English, but had completed his first novel Flowers and Shadows before he moved to England.

When he left university he worked as a BBC broadcaster and as poetry editor of West Africa magazine.

His novels include The Landscapes Within (1981) and Dangerous Love (1996).

Okri has also published two collections of short stories, Incidents at the Shrine (1986) and Stars of the New Curfew (1988), and a collection of poems, An African Elegy (1992).

He wrote a poem for the millennium called The Awakening Age.

It was written to celebrate the spirit of On The Line, a scheme to bring together the countries that straddle 0 longitude.

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