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Chris Abani
The poem Ode to Joy on a wall in the Dutch city of Leiden

Christopher Abani (or Chris Abani) (born December 27, 1966) is a Nigerian author. Abani's first novel, Masters of the Board, was about a Neo-Nazi takeover of Nigeria. The book earned one reviewer to praise Abani as "Africa's answer to Frederick Forsyth."[1] The Nigerian government, however, believed the book to be a blueprint for an actual coup, and sent the 18-year-old Abani to prison in 1985.[2] After serving six months in jail, he was released, but he went on to perform in a guerilla theatre group. This action led to his arrest and imprisonment at Kiri Kiri, a notorious prison.[3] He was released again, but after writing his play Song of a Broken Flute he was arrested for a third time, sentenced to death, and sent to the Kalakuta Prison, where he was jailed with other political prisoners and inmates on death row.[4] His father is Igbo, while his mother was English born.[5]

He spent some of his prison time in solitary confinement, but was freed in 1991.[2] He lived in exile in London until a friend was murdered there in 1999; he then fled to the United States.[2]

He is a Professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the 2001 Prince Claus Awards, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Selections of his poetry appear in the online journal Blackbird.

Contents

Works

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Novels

  • The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007)
  • GraceLand (FSG, 2004/Picador 2005)
  • Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985)

Novellas

Poetry

  • Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)
  • Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004)
  • Daphne's Lot (Red Hen, 2003)
  • Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001).

Awards, grants and honors

2009

  • Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction.

2008

  • Winner, PEN Beyond the Margins Award for Song For Night.
  • Nominated for Lamada Award (the Virgin of Flames)
  • Recipient, Distinguished Humanist Award (UC, Riverside)

2007

  • Pushcart Nomination for Sanctificum. (poetry)
  • New York Times Editor's Choice (Song for Night)
  • Finalist, PEN Beyond the Margins Award (Becoming Abigail)
  • A Barnes and Noble Discovery Selection (The Virgin of Flames)
  • A New York Times Editor's Choice (The Virgin of Flames)
  • A New York Libraries Books For Teens Selection (Becoming Abigail)

2006

  • A New York Times Editor's Choice (Becoming Abigail)
  • A Chicago Reader Critic's Choice (Becoming Abigail)
  • A selection of the Essence Magazine Book Club (Becoming Abigail)
  • A selection of the Black Expressions Book Club (Becoming Abigail)
  • Pushcart Nomination (poetry) (A Way To Turn This To Light)
  • Shortlisted for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (GraceLand).

2005

  • Winner, Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. (GraceLand)
  • Winner, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award (GraceLand)
  • Silver Medal, California Book Award for Fiction (GraceLand)
  • Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. (GraceLand)
  • Finalist, Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Books (Africa Region)(GraceLand)
  • Pushcart Nomination for Blooding. StoryQuarterly.

2003

  • Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, USA
  • Hellman/Hammet Grant from Human Rights Watch, USA.

2002

  • Imbongi Yesizwe Poetry International Award, South Africa.

2001

  • PEN USA West Freedom-to-Write Award, USA.
  • Prince Claus Awards.
  • Middleton Fellowship, University of Southern California, USA

References

  1. ^ http://www.chrisabani.com/Abani_Fiction/MastersOfTheBoard.htm
  2. ^ a b c http://www.bcny.org/ws-2005/writers-series2005-abani.htm
  3. ^ http://realneo.us/Poet-of-the-day-Chris-Abani
  4. ^ Brisbane Writer's Festival
  5. ^ Timberg, Scott (February 18, 2007). "Living in the `perfect metaphor’". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/feb/18/entertainment/ca-abani18. Retrieved 2009-01-25. "But even before he became one of the rare Africans in the Phoenix Inn and one of the few blacks living in East L.A., Abani was what he calls “an outsider’s outsider.” He grew up in small Nigerian cities, the son of an Igbo educator father and a white English-born mother who’d met at Oxford, where she was a secretary and he was a post-doc student. Raised Roman Catholic, Abani studied in the seminary as a teenager."  

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Chris Abani (born 1966-12-27) is a Nigerian author.

Sourced

TED Africa Conference (2008)

  • What I've come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion, everyday acts of compassion. In South Africa they have a phrase called ubuntu. Ubuntu comes out of a philosophy that says, the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me.
  • He said to me, "It will always be difficult, but if you cry like this every time, you will die of heartbreak. Just know it is enough sometimes to know it is difficult."
    • Quoting a former child soldier who held his hand over a goat's eyes while Abani, aged 13, killed it
    • "Chris Abani muses on humanity," dotSUB (2008-11-13)

External links

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