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Novella Named a Best Book for Teens

UCR Professor's Novella Named a Best Book for Teens

New York Public Library honors story of Nigerian teen by Christopher Abani

(March 28, 2007)

Chris Abani, University of California, Riverside (Photo by Carlos Puma)Enlarge

Chris Abani, University of California, Riverside (Photo by Carlos Puma)

A novella by Christopher Abani, UC Riverside associate professor of creative writing, is on the New York Public Library’s list of best books for teens.

“Becoming Abigail,” published in April 2006 by Akashic Books, takes teenaged Abigail to London from Nigeria as she flees brutal relatives and struggles to find her place in the world.

Abani, who was born in Nigeria, said he was honored to be included in “Books for the Teen Age 2007,” the 78th annual list of books the New York Public Library recommends for teens ages 12 to 18.

"I have always been in awe of the life that a book can take on. How a writer has a dream and tries to put it to words and it finds readers across the board, in different communities, cultures, countries and languages, so this is a particular honor, to have one of the world's prominent library systems recognize this about a book I wrote,” Abani said.

“But perhaps more important is the fact that this is a book that I wrote without any readership in mind, a very grown up book, and to have it be selected for teens (as well as pull an adult and critical readership) says to me that I am able to write with respect and integrity such that there is no limit on my readership. This is one of the best things a writer can find out about their work."

In 2006 “Becoming Abigail” was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a Chicago Reader Critic’s Choice, and a selection of the Essence Magazine and Black Expressions book clubs.

Abani also is the author of the novels “The Virgin of Flames,” “GraceLand” and “Masters of the Board,” as well as the novella “Song for Night” and several collections of poetry.

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