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This Friday: Babel Wraps Up with Chris Albani, Next Year’s Slate of Speakers Announced

Filed under: Literary
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Nigerian author Chris Abani will be the last speaker in the Just Buffalo Babel series this year at Kleinhans Music Hall on April 15. The speakers for next year’s Babel series will be announced at the event, and subscriptions for next season will be sold at a considerable discount. The sale will be available only at the reading.

Abani’s first novel, Masters of the Board, written when he was just 18, earned him a prison sentence in 1985, after the Nigerian government deemed his novel to be a rallying cry for a coup d’état. He was later imprisoned again while performing in a guerilla theater group, and arrested for the third and final time and sentenced to death after writing his play, Songs of a Broken Flute. Freed in 1991, Abani left Nigeria after his third arrest for England, but fled eight years later after the murder of his friend to the United States.

Abani has written novels (The Virgin of Flames (2007), Graceland (2004/5)) as well as poetry (Sanctificum (2010), Hands Washing Water (2006)). Abani’s recent book, Song for Night, published in 2007, is a novella following the steps of an Igbo boy soldier, rendered literally mute by the atrocities of war. These atrocities present in the book are not exaggerated; instead, the horrors of war are explicated by the boy’s narration and his sensitivity. Abani’s most recent book of poetry, Sanctificum, is a book-length series of linked poems incorporating religious rituals, the Igbo language, and the rhythm and cadence of reggae.

Abani is currently a professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of multiple awards including the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, a PEN beyond the Margins Award, the Guggenheim Award, and much more.

Abani’s reading starts at 8pm. Tickets are $35 general admission and $10 for students. A $100 patron’s ticket includes reserved seating and an author’s reception. For more information, visit or call 832-5400.

michael koh