Chris Abani

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.

His most recent book of poetry, Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), is a book-length sequence of linked poems, bringing together religious ritual, the Igbo language of his Nigerian homeland, and reggae rhythms in a postracial, liturgical love song.[6]

Contents

Published works

Novels

  • The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007)4
  • GraceLand (FSG, 2004/Picador 2005)
  • Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985)

Novellas

  • Becoming Abigail (Akashic Books, 2006)
  • Song For Night (Akashic Books, 2007)

Poetry

  • Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)
  • Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)
  • Dog Woman (Red Hen Press, 2004)
  • Daphne's Lot (Red Hen Press, 2003)
  • Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001).

Honors and awards

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)

2007

  • 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." 
  6. ^ http://www.coppercanyonpress.org/catalog/index.cfm?action=displayBook&book_ID=1425

External links


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