Literature doesn't have a country. Shakespeare is an African writer. His Falstaff, for example, is very African in his appetite for life, his largeness of spirit. The characters of Turgenev are ghetto dwellers. Dickens characters are Nigerians.— Ben Okri
The most helpful Ben Okri quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening
A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves.
Sick storytellers can make nations sick. Without stories we would go mad. Life would lose it’s moorings or orientation... Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger.
To poison a nation, poison its stories.
A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art: they
We have fallen into this very mean description of humanity.
Naturalism in fiction is too reductive in its definition of human beings.
The road will never swallow you. The river of destiny will always overcome evil. May you understand your fate. Suffering will never destroy you, but will make you stronger. Success will never confuse you of scatter your spirit, but will make you fly higher into the good sunlight. Your life will always surprise you.
Beware of the stories you read or tell;
subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.
There ought to be three traditions in the art of humanity: the realistic, the visionary and the wild.
The law is simple. Every experience is repeated or suffered till you experience it properly and fully the first time.
One human life is deeper than the ocean.
Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.
We can redream this world and make the dream come real.
Human beings are gods hidden from themselves.
Destiny plans a different route and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn't have expected.
You are a mischievous one. You will cause no end of trouble. You have to travel many roads before you find the river of your destiny. This life of yours will be full of riddles. You will be protected and you will never be alone.
An inner darkness is darker than an outer darkness.
Wholeness is the enemy of the artist. We ought to be broken, ruined in some way.
Painters ought to be mute. Speech is the enemy of expression.
One of the greatest gifts my father gave me - unintentionally - was witnessing the courage with which he bore adversity.
I lived rough, by my wits, was homeless, lived on the streets, lived on friends' floors, was happy, was miserable.
I went to London because, for me, it was the home of literature.
I went there because of Dickens and Shakespeare.
If we could be pure dancers in spirit we would never be afraid to love, and we would love with strength and wisdom.
If we are true, if we can love, if we have vision, if we can have courage, we can, we should, we ought to, we will.
To see the madness and yet walk a perfect silver line.
... That's what the true story-teller should be: a great guide, a clear mind, who can walk a silver line in hell or madness.
Bad things will happen and good things too.
Your life will be full of surprises. Miracles happen only where there has been suffering. So taste your grief to the fullest. Don’t try and press it down. Don’t hide from it. Don’t escape. It is life too. It is truth. But it will pass and time will put a strange honey in the bitterness. That’s the way life goes.
I'm fascinated by the mysterious element that runs through our lives.
Everyone is looking out of the world through their emotion and history. Nobody has an absolute reality.
People are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves.
What you see is what you make. What you see in a people is what you eventually create in them.
Ghetto-dwellers are the great fantasists.
There was an extraordinary vibrancy there, an imaginative life. When you are that poor, all you've got left is your belief in the imagination.
Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide.
I was going to be a scientist.
A man must be able to hold his drink because drunkenness is sometimes necessary in this difficult life.
Don't read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
When you can imagine you begin to create and when you begin to create you realize that you can create a world that you prefer to live in, rather than a world that you're suffering in.
It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are.
They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of your mind and self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.
If you are working in an office, where do you find the time to write a novel? But you can finish a short story in five pages. Furthermore, a short story is a perfect place to learn the craft
Reading, like writing, is a creative act.
If readers only bring a narrow range of themselves to the book, then they'll only see their narrow range reflected in it.
A man's greatest battles are the ones he fights within himself.
I held you in the square And felt the evening Re-order itself around Your smile.
Don't neglect the gold in your own back yard.
It is not important for me as a writer that you leave a piece of writing of mine with either an agreement or even a resonance with what I have said. What is important is that you leave with the resonance of what you have felt and what you thought in reaction to that.
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.
Without stories we would go mad. Life would lose its moorings or lose its orientations. even in silence we are living our stories
I am not fighting for success, just to get more beauty out of myself and share it with more people.
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.
Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.
This is what you must be like. Grow wherever life puts you down.
Our time here is magic! It's the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in. It's the only space.
Creativity is the art of the impossible
We are living in enchanted time. With our spirits right.
The earliest storytellers were magi, seers, bards, griots, shamans.
They were, it would seem, old as time, and as terrifying to gaze upon as the mysteries with which they wrestled .. (they) helped the community live though one more darkness, with eyes wide open, and with hearts set alight.