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Prayer for the Living


Topical and timely, Booker Prize–winning author Ben Okri’s new collection of short stories blurs parallel realities and walks the line between darkness and magic.

Now available for preorder. All preorders will ship on or before February 2, 2021.

Forthcoming: 2/2/21

$24.95 $18.71

What people are saying…

“A career-spanning story collection from the Booker Prize–winning Nigerian writer that navigates the blurry line between dream and reality . . . ‘Alternative Realities Are True’ is a dimension-warping detective story worthy of Philip K. Dick, and ‘Don Ki-Otah and the Ambiguity of Reading’ is a Don Quixote satire whose metafictional gamesmanship evokes Borges and Achebe . . . Okri skillfully embeds abstract ideas in concrete, engaging storytelling . . . Mind-bending and provocative.”
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

“In Prayer for the Living, Nigerian-born, British-based Booker Prize winner Okri ranges worldwide in stories that test the boundaries of reality.”
Library Journal, Barbara Hoffert’s Prepub Alert

“Okri is always good company and these twenty-odd tales showcase his lucid prose and freewheeling imagination. The settings range from the Andes to Nigeria, and the common thread is that what you see is only part of the story . . . A literary magic-carpet ride of shimmering beauty.”
Daily Mail (UK)

A Library Journal top story collection for Fall 2020

“Booker Prize winner Ben Okri’s short stories in Prayer for the Living are timeous, shocking, and perceptive.”
Sunday Times (South Africa)

“Okri is a master of the genre: these fables are concise and otherworldly. Resplendent and lingering, they capture an ethereal plane between wakefulness and sleep with a skewed, dreamlike brutality and beauty . . . Okri’s magnificent twilight zone provides a surreal and unique insight.”
The Lady (UK)

“The reader is in no doubt they are in the hands of a master storyteller throughout.”
Belfast Telegraph

“An air of magic hovers over many of the tales . . . What really makes a tale, Okri shows, is how it is told.”
New Statesman

“A series of fables that make the reader question the nature of reality and whether what one sees in the world can really be all there is.”
Irish Examiner

“Polyphonic or cacophonous as you choose, [these stories] read as if liberated from a single worldview, yet are mindful of many . . . They’re food for thought.”
Country Life (UK)


Now available for preorder. All preorders will ship on or before February 2, 2021.

Playful, frightening, shocking—these stories from a writer at the height of his power will make you think, or make you laugh. Sometimes they’ll make you want to look away, but they will always hold your gaze.

These are stories set in London, in Byzantium, in the ghetto, in the Andes, and in a printer’s shop in Lagos. Characters include a murderer, a writer, a detective, a man in a cave, a man in a mirror, three little boys, a prison door, and the author himself.

Each one of these twenty-three stories will make you wonder if what you see in the world can really be all there is . . .

Read Ben Okri’s contribution to PEN America’s We Will Emerge: Action project.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Published: 2/2/21
  • IBSN: 9781617758638
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758744


BEN OKRI was born in Minna, Nigeria. His childhood was divided between Nigeria, where he saw firsthand the consequences of war, and London. He won the Booker Prize in 1991 for The Famished Road. He has published eleven novels, four volumes of short stories, four books of essays, and four collections of poems. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He also writes plays and screenplays. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a vice president of English PEN, and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes and honorary doctorates. His latest novel, The Freedom Artist, was published by Akashic Books. Prayer for the Living is his latest short story collection.

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