Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani

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"Compelling and gorgeously written, this is a coming-of-age novella like no other. Chris Abani explores the depths of loss and exploitation with what can only be described as a knowing tenderness. An extraordinary, necessary book."—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban

"Abani's voice brings perspective to every moment, turning pain into a beautiful painterly meditation on loss and aloneness."—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

“Abani's empathy for Abigail's torn life is matched only by his honesty in portraying it. Nothing at all is held back. A harrowing piece of work.”—Peter Orner, author of The Esther Stories

Tough, spirited, and fiercely independent Abigail is brought as a teenager to London from Nigeria by relatives who attempt to force her into prostitution. She flees, struggling to find herself in the shadow of a strong but dead mother. In spare yet haunting and lyrical prose reminiscent of Marguerite Duras, Abani brings to life a young woman who lives with a strength and inner light that will enlighten and uplift the reader.

Chris Abani is a poet and novelist and the author, most recently, of GraceLand, which won the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize, a Silver Medal in the California Book Awards, and was a finalist for several other prizes including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His other prizes include a PEN Freedom-to-Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

About Chris Abani

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Chris Abani's fiction and poetry has been widely anthologized. His latest book, Kalakuta Republic, is a collection of poetry based on his experience as a political prisoner in Nigeria, and received the PEN USA West Freedom-to-Write Award and the Prince Claus of the Netherlands Award.
Published March 1, 2006 by Akashic Books. 136 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Becoming Abigail

The New York Times

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While the books share some elements — a long-dead mother, a father who bathes his hurt in alcohol and jazz — "Becoming Abigail" is more compressed and interior, a poetic treatment of terror and loneliness.

Mar 19 2006 | Read Full Review of Becoming Abigail

Publishers Weekly

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Recalling Lucas Moodyson's crushing Lilya4Ever , this portrait of a brutalized girl given no control over her life or body, features Abani's lyrical prose (Abigail's father's armchair "smelled of the dreams of everyone who had sat in it") and deft moves between short chapters titled "Then" and "N...

Jan 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Becoming Abigail

Entertainment Weekly

Becoming Abigail, a spare yet voluptuous tale about a young Nigerian girl's escape from prostitution is so hypnotic that it begs to be read in one sitting.

Apr 05 2006 | Read Full Review of Becoming Abigail

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