Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Common Reading 2019: Ben Okri

"The Joys of Storytelling III"

"The universe began as a story"

—Ben Okri 

Ben Okri

Ben Okri is a Nigerian poet, novelist, and short-story writer. He attended Urhobo College in Warri, Nigeria, and the University of Essex in Colchester, England. His first novels include Flowers and Shadows and The Landscapes Within. He has also written two volumes of short stories entitled Incidents at the Shrine and Stars of the New Curfew. He also won the Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road in 1991.

Discussion Questions

1. Which aphorism or fragment stood out to you the most? Why?


2. Are there any aphorisms or fragments that you disagreed with? Why?


3. Number 76 refers to the stories that are “rich and rare, that haunt, that elude, that tantalize, that have the effect of poignant melodies lodged deep in barely reachable places of the spirit...." What stories in your life have had this effect on you?


Karla Bohmbach is Professor of Religious Studies at Susquehanna University, teaching a range of courses that include Ethics in Biblical Stories, Women and Religion, and The Bible and Archaeology. Much of her research focuses on violence against women in the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, but she also co-authored An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: A Thematic Approach and served as co-editor for Eco-Lutheranism: Lutheran Perspectives on Ecology. When not teaching or writing, she likes to hike and camp with her husband (especially out west), sing in church choir, and read. She also occasionally serves as a supply preacher for area Lutheran churches.  

Introduction by Karla Bohmbach

In-Class Activities

1. Write a set of aphorisms or fragments about what you have learned in college so far.


2. Take an aphorism or fragment from Okri's text and re-write it to make it fit your life experience.