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Chris Abani

Author of Graceland

Includes the names: Chris Abani, Chris Abani, Chris / b: December 27 Abani, 1966 /

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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. 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. Chris was recently hospitalized in Los Angeles for food poisoning, on the same day he was scheduled to speak at the Central Library in that city.

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