Review: The Magic Lamp by Ben Okri & Rosemary Clunie / The Times Literary Supplement

Review: The Magic Lamp by Ben Okri & Rosemary Clunie / The Times Literary Supplement

The Magic Lamp begins with an extract from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland lamenting any book that does not include pictures – a neat introduction to this collaboration between the Booker Prize-winning, Nigerian-born author Ben Okri and the Scottish painter Rosemary Clunie. A labour of love, the book has been compiled over the course of fifteen years, with ten years spent painting the images and five years writing the stories.

In what is described as a collection of contemporary fairy tales, both writer and artist take a loose approach to narrative, moving from one to the next with free-flowing ease. The resulting effect, as Okri himself describes, feels like “gazing into a dream”, with all its indecipherable mystery. The product is a charming, if at times insubstantial, concoction of word and image – a hallucinatory twist on the conventions of the cautionary tale.

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