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59 pages, ebook
First published September 23, 2014
"Comfortable face. I liked it. Made me think of a well-worn armchair that I’d like to collapse into after a rough day. A face made for sitting in. Where one could sip a sweet spicy ginger tea and talk about love and books and karaoke. A face worn in by living, worn in by suffering, by pain, by loss, but also by laughter and joy and the gifts of love and friendship, of family, of travel, of generations of DNA blending to make a true mix of human. I think of all the stress and relief of razors scraping hair from my face. Of extreme weather. Of rain. Of sun. I think of all the people who have touched my face, slapped it, punched it, kissed it, washed it, shaved it. All of that human contact must leave some trace, some of the need and anger that motivated that touch. This face is softened by it all. Made supple by all the wonder it has beheld, all the kindness, all the generosity of life.It is not just the face of Chris Abani that is comfortable. He makes us comfortable about ourselves, about the world, about our fears and aspirations. Abani’s fiction reveals the insides of characters who are often different in some way, their very differentness expressing their underlying and universal humanity. We are all different from one another. It is our differentness that makes us the same.
"In making my art, and sometimes when I teach, I am like a crazed, spirit-filled, snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues, spell-casting, Babylon-chanting-down, new-age, evangelical preacher wildly kicking the crutches away from my characters, forcing them into their pain and potential transformation. Alas, or maybe not, I also kick the crutches away from my readers. And many have fled from the revival tents of my art, screaming in terror."
“Language actually makes the world in which we live.”Language, and literature, at its best, can be transformative. We can create our world anew by what we say, what we think, what we read, what we write. But we therefore have an obligation to use words [and actions] that do not harsh the environment, but gentle it, that explain and improve the world.
“To wear the face of someone you can’t help loving as you can’t help hating them, is to be caught in an infernal struggle for your own soul.”
“The face and its value lay in its ability to reference and perform, which is to manifest the true nature or character behind it.”
“…our identity is as much about the dead as it is about the living.”