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Ben Okri and the freedom whose walls are closing in

Smith, A. (2005) Ben Okri and the freedom whose walls are closing in. Race and Class, 47 (1). pp. 1-13. ISSN 0306-3968

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Postcolonial models of culture tend to treat the relationship between reality and representation as arbitrary at best. This article argues, contrastingly, that the long-standing materialist assumption of a mappable relationship between cultural form, on the one hand, and the social conditions of cultural formation, on the other, remains absolutely relevant. Ben Okri's celebrated Famished Road trilogy is taken as a noteworthy example in this regard. While Okri's development of a disassociated or elevated narrative form can be seen to fit well with many of the critical propositions of postcolonial theory, it can itself be read as peculiarly expressive of its own social and historical context of production.