Creative Writing Professor's New Novel Reviewed by New York Times

By Christine Kitano, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
April 28, 2006

In the March 19 th issue of the New York Times, critic Sam Lipsyte reviewed Becoming Abigail, the latest novella by Chris Abani, Associate Professor of Creative Writing. A follow-up to GraceLand, Abani’s PEN/Faulkner award winning novel, Becoming Abigail revolves around the story of Abigail, a Nigerian teenager who is forced into sexual slavery.

Born in Nigeria, Professor Abani published his first novel at the age of sixteen. He was imprisoned two years later by the Nigerian regime, which saw his book as a threat to national security. Abani would be jailed two more times for his political activism before finally fleeing Nigeria. It is perhaps these experiences that feed Abani’s creativity and imagination. Lipsyte writes, “[Abani] writes about the body’s capacity for both ecstasy and pain with an honesty and precision rarely encountered in recent fiction.”

Since beginning his teaching career at UCR, Abani has received numerous honors, both for his writing and his teaching. He was the recipient of the 2004-2005 Non-Senate Distinguished Research and Teaching Award was most recently honored with a Pushcart nomination for his poetry.

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