Date: November 16, 2009, 7:30 pm
Location: Englert Theatre

Author of Graceland and Song for Night
Stories of Struggle, Stories of Hope: Art, Politics and Human Rights

"Chris Abani may be the most courageous writer working right now," says Dave Eggers. Imprisoned by the Nigerian government as a teenager for his writings, Abani is one of the most admired novelists in the world today. He is also an evocative speaker whose keynotes -- near musical in their fluidity, heartbreak and joy -- mix the personal and the political. His luminous and very funny talks are a vital statement on the redemptive power of art to battle tyranny and to remind us of our common humanity. "Happiness," he has said, "is learning to live with difficulty and grace."
One of the best writers to emerge from Africa in half a century, Abani is the recipient of the PEN Freedom-to-Write Award and many other prizes. His bestselling novel, Graceland, about an Elvis impersonator in Lagos, won the Hemingway/PEN Prize. His other works of fiction include The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail, and the award-winning Song For Night, about a child soldier who has lost his voice. All three were each named a New York Times Editor's Choice. Abani is currently a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Pultizer Prize winner Junot Diaz says, "Chris Abani is a force of nature."

Chris Abani Speech Topic:
Stories of Struggle, Stories of Hope: Art, Politics and Human Rights

On stage, Chris Abani talks movingly on the need for storytelling -- how our words make our world. What is the role of art and literature in serving a just cause? And what are their roles in defending human rights and championing democracy? Abani, who is also a renowned poet and a musician, often caps the evening with a beautiful saxophone piece.

Visit his website at: