Ben Okri, post-publication reflections, and synchronicity

By | February 10, 2021

Having recently been alerted by my daughter via WhatsApp to David Wilcock’s The Synchronicity Key, blow me down if I didn’t experience my very own synchronistic event. In my initial blog, I had referred to myself as ‘something of an undercover agent investigating the writings of fellow African, Ben Okri’, the thrilling upshot of which had been the publication of The Tough Alchemy of Ben Okri, ‘due to hit the shelves’ in London and New York ‘on 20 August 2020’.

This it did in true English precision, and although the publication was widely advertised as available in such far flung countries as Norway, Italy and Japan, I had to wait another two, nail-biting months before I could hold the book in my eighty-year-old hands! During the covid-19 pandemic, the South African authorities had not deemed postal services to be an essential service under a tight and wise lockdown. So, from August to October, I persisted in badgering Bloomsbury Academic with enquiries about my author’s copies, which had evidently been lost in transit. Imagine my surprise when the eventual arrival of a replacement set coincided, synchronistically, with the day of the family’s lighting candles in France, the UAE, the Far East and SA in memory of my late father-in-law and my offspring’s grandfather, Robert Arthur Gray, who shares the comic initials ‘RAG’, and whose passing was on 21st  October some years ago.  

The book is everything one could wish for: professionally produced by the top academic publishers, whom I cannot thank enough for their expertise and patience as I struggled during regular electricity outages in South Africa to meet deadlines. For its eye-catching cover, I thank Scottish artist, Rosemary Clunie (another naming synchronicity); and for the gratifying back-cover blurbs I am forever indebted to widely renowned South African author, friend and  fellow academic, Oxford’s Elleke Boehmer, and to Ben Okri – citizen of the universe whose mission is to persuade humankind that all life is worth preserving and whose mercurial writings have inspired and sustained me for more than the past two decades since the passing of my beloved husband. I bask in the reflected glory of the Foreword by Nigerian-born Londoner and Booker Prize winning author, Ben Okri, as I urge you to share my ongoing journey with a wider audience.

Rosemary Alice Gray is ‘Emeritus Professor’ in the Department of English at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The Tough Alchemy of Ben Okri is one of her numerous works on the writer and features an interview with him.

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