Ben Okri was born in 1959 in northern Nigeria. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative Literature at Essex University in England. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1987, and was awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Westminster (1997) and Essex (2002).
In 1991 Okri was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction for his third novel The Famished Road (1991). In addition to numerous novels, he is the author of a collection of poems, An African Elegy (1992) and an epic poem, Mental Flight (1999). Ben Okri is a Vice-President of the English Centre of International PEN and was awarded an OBE in 2001. He lives in London.