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Thomas Jones: The Size of Wales

23 May 2002
... but that’s probably because there isn’t one. At least, there isn’t one so long as we discount the logic of publicity and sales. Announcing the results in Oslo, where the thing was organised, BenOkri told his audience: ‘If there is one novel you should read before you die, it is Don Quixote.’ Particularly if you’re a moribund Norwegian, since Okri has contributed an introduction to the ...
7 August 1986
Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... coming revolution and the freedom his country will have after his death. Without rhetoric Nkosi describes Sibiya’s abdication of the self and his discovery of concern for the well-being of others. BenOkri writes about social disintegration – and he does it in language that is itself disintegrating and full of the terminology of vomiting and shit. The mood of his collection of short stories ...
25 June 1992
Kid 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 571 16607 5
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Feast Days 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 52 pp., £6, April 1992, 0 436 20103 8
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An African Elegy 
by Ben Okri.
Cape, 84 pp., £4.99, March 1992, 9780224030069
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Memorabilia 
by Colin Falck.
Taxus, 77 pp., £5.95, March 1992, 1 873012 23 3
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Serious Concerns 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 87 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571166589
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... There is no Eliotic disgust. Similarly, Burnside’s awareness of primal violence lacks the melodramatic insistence of Ted Hughes. Violence, and the resistance to it, are important themes in BenOkri’s An African Elegy: but his declamatory mode largely proscribes subtle registrations like those of Burnside. Okri’s greatest public exposure as a poet came on the 1991 Booker Prize night, when he ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Why I Quit

10 September 2014
... keep. And I heard it when, instead of inviting writers who had studied or taught at Essex to this September’s 50th anniversary celebrations (as well as Walcott and Livingstone, the list includes BenOkri, Michèle Roberts, Elizabeth Cook, Iain Sinclair, Tom Raworth and Irvine Welsh), the administrators told me ‘family fun’ was to be the mood. So instead, would I give a talk about The Wobbly ...

Back from the Underworld

Marina Warner: The Liveliness of the Dead

16 August 2017
The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Princeton, 711 pp., £27.95, October 2015, 978 0 691 15778 8
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... which can travel far and wide online: the memorial which was set up at Tate Britain to Khadija Saye, the young artist-photographer who died with her mother in the Grenfell fire, and the ode that BenOkri wrote the same night are instances.If any part is missing in the triangulation of body, name and mourning ceremony an injury has been done. This is one reason for the miasma that hangs over Grenfell ...

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