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March 27, 2006
DH 06 RH25
Contact: Russ Hudson,
Media Relations Coordinator
(310) 243-2455/2001

“Graceland” Author, former Nigerian Prisoner, Speaks

Award-winning writer Chris Abani addresses cross-cultural influences,
violence, poverty

Carson, CA— "Graceland" author Chris Abani, a Nigerian imprisoned when he was a teenager after he was accused of being a mastermind behind a political coup because he wrote a political thriller at age 16, will speak about his award-winning writing at 7 p.m. on April 25 at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Abani's talk, free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception and book-signing.

Abani told Believer Magazine in an article published this month that he was imprisoned twice more in Nigeria, sentenced to death, and tortured by electric shock. With all of that, he has managed to emigrate to the United States, write eight novels-two of which were published, including “Graceland”-and has won several literary awards.  

"Graceland" is the story of a Nigerian teenager who aspires to work his way out of the ghetto of Lagos, Nigeria, by performing as an Elvis impersonator.  The novel addresses cross-cultural issues, including the influence of American culture on Nigerian life, the struggle to maintain Nigerian culture in light of this influence, and the violence and poverty associated with governance by military regimes.

“Graceland” was awarded the 2005 PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) Hemingway Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Best Book Category (Africa Region) of The Commonwealth Writer's Prize. Abani's reading is part of the Pat Eliet Lecture Series, held in memory of Patricia Eliet, Professor of English at CSU Dominguez Hills from 1969-1990. While teaching at Dominguez Hills, Eliet focused on cross cultural issues in particular, and Abani's work addresses many of the issues with which Eliet was concerned.  Sponsors of the event include CSUDH’s Department of English, the Honors Program, Associated Students, Incorporated, and the College of Liberal Arts.

Abani's Website is at http://www.chrisabani.com/.

The reading, which will be held in Welch Hall D-165, will be followed by a reception and book signing in the University Bookstore. Welch Hall is directly east of parking lot 3, accessible from the Tamcliff Street-Toro Center Drive entrance from East Victoria Street. The bookstore is in the central part of the campus off a walkway from Welch Hall.

Parking is $3. Parking permits are available from the yellow dispensing machines at the perimeters of the parking lots. CSUDH is located at 1000 E. Victoria Street, off Avalon Boulevard between the 91 and 405 freeways. It is east of the 110 freeway from 190th Street, which becomes East Victoria Street.

For more information about this event, please contact Helen Oesterheld at (310) 243-3944 or Molly Youngkin at (310) 243-3941 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University Communications & Public Affairs
Welch Hall, B-363

Dominguez Hills Dateline is produced by University Advancement/ University Communications
& Public Affairs

Media Contact:

Russell Hudson
University Communications
& Public Affairs
(310) 243-2455


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California State University, Dominguez Hills • 1000 E. Victoria Street • Carson, California 90747 • (310) 243-3696
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Last updated March 27, 2006, 12:03 p.m.,
by Joanie Harmon