Song for Night by Chris Abani
A Novella

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"Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth

"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely—so devastatingly—you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and utterly haunted."—Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall

Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war.

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). 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 September 1, 2007 by Akashic Books. 171 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Song for Night

The New York Times

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At another point, My Luck notices that despite the war, “every night my sky is still full of stars.” This is his fight: to continue to notice what endures when he is “lost in a war with the taste for rape.” And yet, the novella deftly frustrates any easy morality.

Sep 16 2007 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella

The Guardian

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On hearing how his fellow inmate had wound up there, Kuti offered an ironic warning: 'Truth, my friend, is a risky business.' Song for Night by Chris Abani Buy it from the...

Sep 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella

Publishers Weekly

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Abani is unafraid to evoke My Luck's dark side, and though My Luck's experience with killing is “a singular joy that is perhaps rivaled only by an orgasm,” his stock-taking also touches on guilt at witnessing his mother's murder, ambivalence about his imam father and tenderness for Ijeoma, a girl...

Jun 25 2007 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella

Entertainment Weekly

When civil war breaks out in an unnamed African country plagued by Christian-vs.-Muslim conflict, 15-year-old My Luck and other Igbo children are recruited as mine-sweepers.

Aug 31 2007 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella

Shelf Awareness

As Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., explained: "We thought it was appropriate to do during Banned Books Week.

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Just how infernal and terrifying are the scenes of civil war in Nigeria writer Chris Abani describes in his new novella, Song for Night?

Oct 03 2007 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella

M/C Anderson

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Jun 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella


Haidt ignores the wisdom of all the great moral and religious writings on the ethical life, from the biblical prophets to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to the Sermon on the Mount, to the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita, which understand that moral behavior is determined by our treatment of the weake...

Jun 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Song for Night: A Novella

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