We're proud to be publishing a very special eBook by Chris Abani, award-winning novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and playwright, called The Face: Cartography of the Void. In this funny and personal short memoir, Abani recalls “the people who have touched my face, slapped it, punched it, kissed it, washed it, shaved it,” and recognizes that “all of that human contact must leave some trace.” The Face is a lush and succinct work from one of our finest and most original writers.
Abani takes us into the world of his childhood as the son of an Igbo father and English mother in Afikpo, Nigeria. Leaping energetically from traditional African culture to superheroes to tasteless jokes from the Internet, Abani meditates on his own face and finds insight into race, family, forgiveness, language, and the nature of identity.
Abani’s essay is part of a groundbreaking new series from Restless Books called The Face, in which a diverse group of writers take readers on a guided tour of that most intimate terrain: their own faces. Novella-length, the essays of The Face are uniquely designed to give readers access to a fully formed world they can absorb in a single sitting, but which will stay with them for a long time.
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Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and playwright. Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria, received a BA in English from Imo State University, Nigeria, an MA in English, Gender and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. He has resided in the United States since 2001.
He 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, and a Guggenheim Award.
His fiction includes The Secret History of Las Vegas, Song For Night, The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail, GraceLand, and Masters of the Board. His poetry collections are Sanctificum, There Are No Names for Red, Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems, Hands Washing Water, Dog Woman, Daphne’s Lot, and Kalakuta Republic. His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian, Hebrew, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bosnian, and Serbian.
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, as well as Witness, Parkett, The New York Times, O Magazine, and Bomb.
His many research interests include African Poetics, World Literature, 20th Century Anglophone Literature, African Presences in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, The Living Architecture of Cities, West African Music, Postcolonial and Transnational Theory, Robotics and Consciousness, Yoruba and Igbo Philosophy and Religion.
He is a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.