About Chris

Poet, Novelist, Essayist, Screenwriter and Humanist.

Chris Headshot Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria, received a BA in English from Imo State University, Nigeria, an MA in English, Gender and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. He has resided in the United States since 2001.

He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award.

His fiction includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night *(Akashic, 2007), *The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985).

His poetry collections are Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems *(Peepal Tree Press, 2010) *Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne’s Lot (Red Hen, 2003) and *Kalakuta Republic *(Saqi, 2001).

His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian, Hebrew, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bosnian and Serbian.

Through his TED Talks, public speaking and essays Abani is known as an international voice on humanitarianism, art, ethics, and our shared political responsibility. His critical and personal essays have been featured in books on art and photography, as well as Witness, Parkett, The New York Times, O Magazine, and Bomb.

His many research interests include African Poetics, World Literature, 20th Century Anglophone Literature, African Presences in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, The Living Architecture of Cities, West African Music, Postcolonial and Transnational Theory, Robotics and Consciousness, Yoruba and Igbo Philosophy and Religion.

He is Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.

Also see The Chris Abani Bibliography

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AWARDS/GRANTS/HONORS

2014 - Winner of the Edgar Prize

2014 - Finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award in Fiction

2014 - Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

2014 - Ford United States Artists Fellow

2009 - Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction.

2008 - Winner, PEN Beyond the Margins Award ( Song For Night)

2008 - Finalist, Dayton Literary Peace Prize (Song for Night)

2008 - Nominated for Lamada Award (the Virgin of Flames)

2008 - Recipient, Distinguished Humanist Award (UC, Riverside)

2007 - Pushcart Nomination for Sanctificum. (poetry)

2007 - New York Times Editor’s Choice (Song for Night)

2007 - Finalist, PEN Beyond the Margins Award (Becoming Abigail)

2007 - A Barnes and Noble Discovery Selection (The Virgin of Flames)

2007 - A New York Times Editor’s Choice (The Virgin of Flames)

2007 - A New York Libraries Books For Teens Selection (Becoming Abigail)

2006 - A New York Times Editor’s Choice (Becoming Abigail)

2006 - A Chicago Reader Critic’s Choice (Becoming Abigail)

2006 - A selection of the Essence Magazine Book Club (Becoming Abigail)

2006 - A selection of the Black Expressions Book Club (Becoming Abigail)

2006 - Pushcart Nomination (poetry) for “A Way To Turn This To Light.”

2006 - Finalist for IMPAC Dublin Prize (GraceLand)

2005 - Winner, PEN Hemingway Book Prize. (GraceLand)

2005 - Winner Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction (GraceLand)

2005 - Silver Medal, California Book Award for Fiction. (GraceLand)

2005 - Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. (GraceLand)

2005 - Finalist, Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Books (Africa Region). (GraceLand)

2005 - Pushcart Nomination for “Blooding.” StoryQuarterly.

2004 - Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers. (GraceLand)

2004 - New York Times Editor’s Choice (GraceLand)

2004 - Nominated for The Kingsley Tufts Prize for Poetry (Dog Woman)

2004 - Nominated for The Griffin Prize in Poetry (Dog Woman)

2003 - Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, USA.

2003 - Hellman/Hammet Grant from Human Rights Watch, USA.

2002 - Imbonge Yesizwe Poetry International Award, South Africa.

2001 - PEN USA West Freedom - to - Write Award, USA.

2001 - Prince Claus Award for Literature & Culture, The Netherlands.

2001 - Middleton Fellowship, University of Southern California, USA.

1983 - Delta Fiction Award, Nigeria. (Masters of the Board).

EDUCATION: BA - English (Nigeria), MA - Gender and Culture (London), MA - English (USA), PhD - Literature and Creative Writing (USA).

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