Ben Okri Interview: The Day I Became a Writer

In this short video, the Booker Prize-winning writer Ben Okri shares the magical moment of that day alone in the heavy African rain, when he decided that he was going to write.

Because it was a day of heavy rain, his family – who had all gone out – could not immediately come back, and the young Okri found himself home alone for the first time in a long time: “And in the silence of the house, with the rain falling all around me – and the sound of African rain is very unique unto itself – I did two things….” Okri first made a detailed drawing of the items on the family mantelpiece, and then wrote a poem about the rain: “And when I wrote that poem, I went into this other space and came back out, and I thought to myself, well, that’s easy for my consciousness, of the two things. And that’s when I made a decision that I was going to write.”

Ben Okri (b.1959) is a Nigerian novelist, poet, essayist, short story writer and playwright. Okri is the author of several novels including ‘The Famished Road’ (1991) (which won the 1991 Booker Prize), ‘Songs of Enchantment’ (1993), ‘Dangerous Love’ (1996), ‘Infinite Riches’ (1998), ‘Starbook’ (2007), and ‘The Freedom Artist’ (2019). Among numerous prestigious literary awards, Okri is the recipient of the Paris Review/Aga Khan Prize for Fiction (1987), the Booker Prize for Fiction (1991), Premio Palmi (1995), and an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2001. He lives in London. For more see:

Ben Okri was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2019.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard

Edited by Klaus Elmer

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea-fonden


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