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Chris Abani Publishes New Book

UC Riverside Author Travels World to Share ‘Becoming Abigail’

New York Times says Chris Abani’s Coming-of-Age Tale Shines Brutal Light

(April 13, 2006)

Chris AbaniEnlarge

Chris Abani

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Writer Chris Abani, an associate professor at UC Riverside, is on an extensive U.S. tour to promote his new novella, “Becoming Abigail,” published this month by Akashic Books.

The novella takes its main character, Abigail, to London from Nigeria, where she flees brutal relatives and struggles to find her place in the world. It has taken Abani, who is Nigerian, from California to Durban, South Africa, where he took part in the Time of the Writer Festival.

The book’s official launch is April 26, but Abani’s busy schedule of U.S. readings and book-signings started April 4 in Chicago.

The Riverside Book Club will host Abani on April 24 at UC Riverside.

On May 17, during Abani’s guest reading at UCR’s Special Collections Library, he is expected to read from his previous novel, GraceLand, last year’s PEN/Faulkner Award—winning boy's coming-of-age novel.

“Becoming Abigail,” is the harrowing story of a teenage girl. The story unfolds in the present, as relatives in London try to force Abigail into prostitution, and in the past, through the story of Abigail’s mother’s death while giving birth to her.

Critic Sam Lipsyte, writing in The New York Times, said: Abani's new book . . . is both a natural follow-up to and a radical departure from "GraceLand." While the books share some elements — a long-dead mother, a father who bathes his hurt in alcohol and jazz — "Becoming Abigail" is more compressed and interior, a poetic treatment of terror and loneliness. It may lack the earlier novel's scope (and, perhaps, hope), but its isolating strategy, its sharp focus on the devastation of one young woman, has a deeper kind of resonance.

Abani is also a poet. His collections include Dog Woman (2004), Daphne’s Lot (2003) and Kalakuta Republic (2001). When not teaching at UCR he teaches in the MFA Program at Antioch University in Los Angeles.

Appearances include:

April 15, Skylight Books, Los Angeles
April 20, Guest Writer, Boys Club of New York - Writers Series.
April 21, Guest Writer, Ethnic PEN, Long Island, New York
April 21, Barnes & Noble, Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York
April 24, Guest, Riverside Book Club, UC Riverside
April 29 -30, Los Angeles Times Book Fair, Los Angeles
May 17, Guest Reader, Special Collections Library, UC Riverside


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