The Virgin of Flames

The Virgin of Flames

By Chris Abani

Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143038771, 290pp.

Publication Date: January 2007


From the author of the award-winning GraceLand comes a searing, dazzlingly written novel of a tarnished City of Angels

Praised as singular (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and extraordinary (The New York Times Book Review), GraceLand stunned critics and instantly established Chris Abani as an exciting new voice in fiction. In his second novel, set against the uncompromising landscape of East L.A., Abani follows a struggling artist named Black, whose life and friendships reveal a world far removed from the mainstream. Through Blacks journey of self- discovery, Abani raises essential questions about poverty, religion, and ethnicity in America today. The Virgin of Flames, a marvelous and gritty novel filled with indelible images and unforgettable characters, confirms Chris Abani as an immensely talented writer.

About the Author
Chris Abani was born in Nigeria. At age sixteen he published his first novel, for which he suffered severe political persecution. He went into exile in 1991, and has since lived in England and the United States. His book "Daphne's Lot" is a collection of poetry for which he won a 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship. His 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.

Praise For The Virgin of Flames

Abani [is] a fluid, closely observant writer. (The Washington Post)

Abanis intensely visual styleand his sense of humorconvert the stuff of hopelessness into the stuff of hope. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GraceLand amply demonstrates that Abani has the energy, ambition and compassion to create a novel that delineates and illuminates a complicated, dynamic, deeply fractured society. (Los Angeles Times)

Abani . . . has written an exhilarating novel, all the more astonishing for its hard-won grace and, yes, redemption. (The Village Voice)

In depicting how deeply external politics can affect internal thinking, GraceLand announces itself as a worthy heir to Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart. Like that classic of Nigerian literature, it gives a multifaceted, human face to a culture struggling to find its own identity while living with somebody elses. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)