I believe in the fundamental unity of all people. It is not possible to write truly well without that fundamental belief. One does not write for a class, religion, race or nation. Writing is an unavoidably inward activity. One writes to the reading mind, to the mind that thinks, dreams, feels, and experiences all the dimensions of reality. It could be said that one is really writing to one living mind which is the mind of all people. This does not mean that one’s life has not been affected by historical facts, geography, the mood of one’s times–events that shape a life. But when one sits down or stands up to write, it can really only be to the minds and hearts of the living.
Writing well is a mysterious adventure. It is an art; and an act of faith that the right words in their best order will be received through the eyes of readers and pass into their minds, drawing upon their emotions and their life experiences. From the meeting of the reader’s spirit and the text something altogether new is created in the consciousness. Writing is primarily the art and craft of activating another consciousness. The effect of this at its best is immeasurable.
—Ben Okri has published eight novels, including The Famished Road (winner of the Booker Prize) and Starbook, as well as collections of poetry, short stories and essays. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Chianti Rufino-Antico Fattore. He was born in Nigeria and lives in London.
2paragraphs gives special thanks to Anderson Tepper for curating our International Writers Interviews. Mr. Tepper is on the staff of Vanity Fair and is a Contributing Editor at Words Without Borders.