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Pen Award-Winning Novelist and Poet to Give Reading

Nigerian-born writer Chris Abani reads from his latest novel Feb. 12

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January 23, 2014 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Award-winning novelist and poet Chris Abani has been compared to Hemingway and described as “one of our most incendiary, emotionally devastating and important writers.” On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the Nigerian-born writer will read from his latest novel at Northwestern University.

The free and public event begins with light refreshments at 5:30 p.m. in Room 108 of Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus. The reading and subsequent discussion take place from 6 to 7 p.m.

Booklist called “The Secret History of Las Vegas,” Abani’s latest novel, “an intricate braid of story strands, enriched by vivid descriptions, intriguingly dysfunctional characters and abundant metaphors.” The author left his native country in 1991 and immigrated to the United States in 1999. Today he is Northwestern’s Board of Trustees Professor of English.

More than once, Abani’s writing landed him in jail in his native Nigeria. He wrote about the prison torture he endured in “Kalakuta Republic,” a collection of poems. “Reading them is like being singed with a red-hot iron,” wrote playwright Harold Pinter.

Abani is a recipient of the 2008 PEN Beyond the Margins Award and a 2007 Editor’s Choice selection by The New York Times. He received the 2005 PEN Hemingway Book Prize for his 2004 novel “Graceland,” which also won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction.

“If you want to get at the molten heart of contemporary fiction, Abani’s work is at the heart of it,” said Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and editor of McSweeney’s literary magazine.

The reading is sponsored by Northwestern’s Center for the Writing Arts, Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, English department and Program of African Studies. For further information, visit the Center for the Writing Arts.  
Topics: Campus Life