LIVE from the NYPL: Chris Abani | Wole Soyinka

November 9, 2016

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CHRIS ABANI is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright born in Nigeria. Through his TED Talks, public speaking and essays, Abani is known as an international voice on humanitarianism, art, ethics, and our shared political responsibility. His critical and personal essays have been featured in books on art and photography.  He is the author of four novels, two novellas, seven poetry collections, and a short memoir with translations into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian, Hebrew, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bosnian and Serbian. Abani is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize, an Edgar Prize and a Guggenheim Award. He is a Ford USA Artists Fellow and is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

WOLE SOYINKA, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, has authored over forty works in the medium of plays, novels, poetry and essays, many of which have received world-wide translations. His biography You Must Set Forth at Dawn  is perhaps the most informative account of a multi-faceted existence, but his childhood memoirs, AKE, The Years of Childhood is considered the most penetrating insight into the formative years of his life and environment, and has been rated a classic of childhood memoirs. His theatre genre ranges from political satires – A Play Of Giants - to the densely poetic and mythological, such as Death and the King’s Horseman. Active on both artistic and Human Rights organisations, he is currently Professor Emeritus at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada, Hutchins Fellow at Harvard University and Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He has won numerous international awards, and also undergone spells of political trials and imprisonment, including twenty-one months in solitary confinement for his stance during the Nigerian Civil War. His current and most challenging undertaking, he confesses, is learning how to retire gracefully from public life.

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