In this dazzling debut by a singular new talent, the sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Graceland by Chris Abani. GraceLand is a novel by Nigerian-American author Chris Abani. Graceland is a dazzling debut by a singular new talentThe sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis.

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GRACELAND by Chris Abani | Kirkus Reviews

The tale about Elvis’ life in Lagos, his relationships with his family esp. Elvis’ life contains many horrible things, and the reader is spared none of them: Set in the Nigerian city of Lagos, GraceLand is the story of a teenage boy named Elvis Oke, who is trying to escape the poverty of his community. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. Though Abani seems to be celebrating the braceland that apparently characterizes the postcolonial world per Partha Chatterjeehis overstatement of that very fragmentation renders him a rather cliched version of the postcoloniality his book promises to portray.

Both are lower class artists, always with a sophisticated book tucked under their arm, with one dead parent and one abusive one. I read Chris Abani’s book Becoming Abigail, and was terribly disappointed, but when I saw this title, I gave him another chance.

And from that lunch over fried chicken, collard greens and mac and cheese, I would imagine Ababi is a helluva teacher. It’s pathetic, and that is just what so charmed me about this novel.

And while much of what we see and experience through the narrative is brutal or painful and simply ugly, just as often you take in your breath in wonder, that such a story could be rendered so beautifully. Thus begins his odyssey into the dangerous underworld of Lagos, guided by his friend Redemption and accompanied by a restless hybrid of voices including The King of Beggars, Sunday, Innocent and Comfort.



There is action as Elvis must flee what he knows after a shady deal comes apart. Along with these recipes is the history of the kola nut ritual, an ancient tradition rite that allows a family to see what kind of adults their children will become. By switching between flashbacks and the present, and sprinkling in some gritty scenes child rape and colorful detail quoting John Wayne Chris Abani builds a compelling narrative through the first half Gracelandlike the gracelamd of a roller coaster ride clacking you to the top of the first big hill.

Others are named after rock stars, which may be the modern equivalent.

Chris Abani Nigeria Quick Review. He suffers through hours of practice set to the tinny tunes emanating from the radio in the filthy shack he shares with his alcoholic father, his stepmother and his stepsiblings. Beatrice Oke, Elvis’ deceased mother. At times he was held in solitary confinement and he was held on death row for some time after being sentenced to death for treason. He applies thick makeup that turns his black skin white, to make his performances more convincing for American tourists and hopefully net him dollars.

As Barthelme’s writing reveals, no part of our life is left unadulterated by the media, and, in Abani’s novel, we also find that no corner of the earth is left untainted by Western influences.

First of all, I may have a clue as to what made the novel notable, but the lack of any closure still bothers me. The book is just descriptive well-written poverty porn for a western audience that’s hungry for evidence that supports its foregone conclusions about african poverty, brutality, filth, rape, hunger, incest, sodomy, squalor, rape, filth, more rape, poverty, and oh, also poverty.


Though unlike our Tuscan journeyman, Elvis is granted two guides, Redemption and the King of Beggars. I think you can judge this book by its cover. In the opening of GraceLand there’s that metaphor of the book falling off Elvis’ chest and splitting open. Elvis Oke is 16, saddled with an alcoholic father, a hostile stepmother, and fading memories of his dead mother, who named him for her favorite American singer and whose tattered journal is his only connection to happier days in the Nigerian countryside.

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Abani’s debut novel offers a searing chronicle of a young man’s coming of age in Nigeria during the late s and early s. There are multiple scenes in which they try on make-up and contemplate homosexuality. The author creates incredible depth of feeling and meaning through symbolism and imagery throughout the book, and the central symbol is the This book aspires to more than it achieves, but it is a wonderful and, at times, amazing first novel nonetheless.

Let’s get back to the author then. In this way, Abani tells the story of a country through the story of one of its children; even though his hopes and dreams may be out of the ordinary, they are – at their basest level – the hopes and dreams of a country. Dec 30, Frances rated it it was ok Shelves: Skip to main content. The two most memorable are Sunday, and Elvis’s close friend, Redemption.

Palm oil and palm wine. Follow Shaun on Twitter shaunrandol.