Chris Abani

Chris Abani

Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Fiction

Competition: US & Canada

University of California, Riverside

Chris Abani was born in Afikpo, Nigeria, and educated in Nigeria (B.A. in literature, Imo State University), London (M.A. in gender and politics, Birkbeck College, University of London), and the United States (M.A. in English, Ph.D. in literature and creative writing, University of Southern California). He is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, where he is also the Director of the M.F.A. Program.

His prose includes Song For Night (Akashic, 2007), which won the PEN Beyond the Margins Award and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award; Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), a finalist for the PEN Beyond the Margins Award and a New York Libraries Selection; GraceLand (FSG, 2004), which won the PEN Hemingway Book Prize, a California Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was a finalist for the Dublin IMPAC Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985), which won the 1983 Delta Fiction Award.

His poetry collections are Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne’s Lot (Red Hen, 2003), and Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001).

He is also the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and the Distinguished Humanist Award from the University of California, Riverside.

A much sought-after public speaker, Chris Abani addresses colleagues and universities as well as corporate and business groups, and professional organizations on issues of human rights, writing, literature, and interdisciplinary possibilities.

Follow the links to view an excerpt of a presentation by Chris Abani:
Chris Abani: Learning the Stories of Africa (Video on, June 2007)
Chris Abani: Muses on Humanity (Video on, February, 2008)
Follow this link for more information about Chris Abani’s projects.
Photo credit: Carlos Puma/UCR.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015
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