Simple and lucid writing does not always come from or lead to profound and insightful thinking. Many years ago I read the popular aphorisms and poems of Kahlil Gibran. In lovely images they spoke of harmony and beauty and truth, and evoked happy contemplation, but I have never returned to Gibran's writing: it was just too sweet. Ben Okri also writes simply and lucidly, but his words cut with a hard, sharp edge. A Way of Being Free (Phoenix House), a slim volume containing twelve essays, resonate with the lyrical prose style also found in Okri's famous novel, The Famished Road, and they speak even more directly about the matter of human-being. Okri writes of poets, artists, art and creativity, and of all the obstacles and struggles inherent in our world: this collection inspires the reader first to think deeply and then to do well. The writer/poet/thinker who is the central subject of the essays is forced to take sides; he confronts the world in order to change it. Do all thinking individuals not share this responsibility? In three separate essays Okri depicts the storyteller as magical (doing "one half the work, but the reader does the other"), as joyful ("when creating") and courageous ("There are no joys without mountains having been climbed. There are no joys without the nightmares which precede them and spring them into light"). Writers bear witness to the world's horrors and dreams, and Okri's facts and fictions vibrate with import and urge readers to transform themselves and their world: "Nature and history are not just about the survival of the fittest, but also about the survival of the wisest, the most adaptive, and the most aware."