Robert Fraser stresses the conciliating force of Ben Okri's writing and his vision of an ideal community beyond the strife-ridden present. This is the first ever full-length study of Ben Okri's life and work based on twenty years of friendship and close attention to his texts. It argues that his writing is best appreciated against the background of his early exposure to the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70) and his attempts since then to forge a medium of conciliation through literature. "We live by stories", Okri once wrote, "We also live in them". Following him from Lagos to London and from obscurity to recognition, Fraser interprets Okri's successive books as refashionings of this inner and outer narrative space by strenuous imagining and generous exhortation. Okri's fiction, essays and poems beckon us through the shabby but vibrant streets of our strife-ridden metropolis towards a potential city of justice, sincerity and peace.
Robert Fraser began his lecturing career in West Africa and has since taught at the Universitis of Leeds, London and at Trinity College, Cambridge where he was Director of Studies in English. He is now Senior Research Fellow at the Open University. His many books include: West African Poetry: A Critical History (1989); Proust and the Victorians (1994); Victorian Quest Romance (1998); and Lifting the Sentence: A Poetics of Postcolonial Fiction (2000). Professor Isobel Armstrong, Birkbeck University of London