'A beautiful work of art . . . elevates art and humanity above meanness and inhumanity.' --World Literature Today
'An unheralded chunk of authentic literature . . . Abani has lived to tell his tale, the least we can do, is listen to it.' --New Statesman
'A brave and challenging book . . . I was moved as much by what the poems have achieved as by what they have rescued from that nightmare world. Reading, I found myself in tears.' --Sunday Tribune
'Abani's poems are the most naked, harrowing expression of prison life and political torture imaginable. Reading them is like being singed by a red hot iron.' --Harold Pinter
'Abani's survival instinct and his poems contain moments of grace, humanity and humor.' --Susannah Tarbush, Diwaniya
'Abani's poetry resonates with a devastating beauty which cuts through to the heart of human strength, survival and tyranny.' --Pride
'Chris has emerged with poems that are graceful pieces of art, almost ready to be hung in a gallery for others to come and enter them and rest in them and weep in them and admire them.' --Kwame Dawes, professor of English literature, University of Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Named after a prison cell familiar to many of Nigeria's political prisoners and dissidents, Kalakuta Republic is a powerful collection of poems detailing the harrowing experiences endured by Abani and others at the hands of Nigeria's military regime in the late 1980s.
Abani's poems are dedicated to those who shared in but did not live through the suffering, like John James, his cellmate, tortured to death in 1991 at the age of 14, and other 'kindred spirits, dreamers, fools'. In them he describes the characters that peopled his dark world, from the prison inmates to their torturers, the generals. This is Abani's first collection of poems following his release from jail, and while intense episodes are vividly described, it is above all a work greatly tinged with humanity and a durable tribute to the triumph of the human spirit.