Chris Abani was born in Afikpo, Nigeria. He published his first novel “Masters of the Board” (1985) at the age of sixteen and for which he suffered severe political persecution. His other novel is “GraceLand” (2004) a coming of age novel about a young Nigerian Elvis impersonator and his struggle against overwhelming odds. His poetry collections include “Kalakuta Republic” (2000), “Daphne’s Lot” (2003), “Dog Woman” (2004) and “Hands Washing Water” (2006). He is the recipient of the 2001 PEN USA West Freedom-to-Write Award, the 2001 Prince Claus Award and a 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship. He is a Middleton Fellow at the University of Southern California and is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California Riverside.