"Compelling and gorgeously written, this is a coming-of-age novella like no other. Chris Abani explores the depths of loss and exploitation with what can only be described as a knowing tenderness. An extraordinary, necessary book."—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban
"Abani's voice brings perspective to every moment, turning pain into a beautiful painterly meditation on loss and aloneness."—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
“Abani's empathy for Abigail's torn life is matched only by his honesty in portraying it. Nothing at all is held back. A harrowing piece of work.”—Peter Orner, author of The Esther Stories
Tough, spirited, and fiercely independent Abigail is brought as a teenager to London from Nigeria by relatives who attempt to force her into prostitution. She flees, struggling to find herself in the shadow of a strong but dead mother. In spare yet haunting and lyrical prose reminiscent of Marguerite Duras, Abani brings to life a young woman who lives with a strength and inner light that will enlighten and uplift the reader.
Chris Abani is a poet and novelist and the author, most recently, of GraceLand, which won the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize, a Silver Medal in the California Book Awards, and was a finalist for several other prizes including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His other prizes include a PEN Freedom-to-Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.
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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." 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. 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. 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. His father is Igbo, while his mother was English born. He spent some of his prison time in solitary confinement, but was freed in 1991. He lived in exile in London until a friend was murdered there in 1999; he then fled to the United States. 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. His books include SANCTIFICUM (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), SONG FOR NIGHT (Akashic Books, 2007), BECOMING ABIGAIL (Akashic Books, 2006), and HANDS WASHING WATER (Copper Canyon Press, 2006).About the Author:
Chris Abani, curator of Akashic's Black Goat poetry imprint, is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of Song for Night, The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail, and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club; winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award).
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