Exiled writer to speak at Voices of Freedom event

Kanchana Ugbabe
Kanchana Ugbabe

Kanchana Ugbabe, Writer at Risk in Residence at Fordham University, will read from her fiction and discuss the stories women tell to cope with displacement and violence at Ithaca City of Asylum's annual Voices of Freedom event. A reception and book signing will follow.

The reading, which is cosponsored by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the South Asia Program, will take place on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Buffalo Street Books, in the DeWitt Mall at 215 N. Cayuga St., Ithaca.

Ugbabe was born and raised in Chennai, India, and received a Ph.D. in literature from Flinders University in Australia. In the early 1980s, she moved to Jos, Nigeria, where she took a job as a professor of English and was active with the Association of Nigerian Authors.

In the early 2000s, Jos became a center of communal violence. In 2015, after a series of attacks on colleagues and friends, Ugbabe’s house was forcibly invaded. Fearing for her life, she fled the country and eventually found refuge as a visiting scholar in Harvard University’s women and gender studies department. In November 2017, she became Fordham University’s first-ever Writer at Risk in Residence, with support from PEN AmericaArtists at Risk Connection and Westbeth Artists Housing.

Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) is an all-volunteer project of the Center for Transformative Action at Cornell. Working with Ithaca College and Cornell, ICOA provides refuge in Ithaca for dissident writers and promotes freedom of expression and human rights.

Voices of Freedom is presented each year in conjunction with Banned Books Week. This year's celebration is made possible by support from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County and in collaboration with Artists at Risk Connection, a program of PEN America. The event is cosponsored by the Cornell's Einaudi Center and South Asia Program; the Ithaca College Department of Writing and the IC Women’s and Gender Studies Program; and Buffalo Street Books.