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The sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to. GraceLand has ratings and reviews. Jon said: I have mixed feelings about this book and while I’m glad I read it, it’s a difficult book to recom. By switching between flashbacks and the present, and sprinkling in some gritty scenes (child rape) and colorful detail (quoting John Wayne).

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May 28, Marieke rated it liked it Shelves: 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 talks about the concept of the African extended family, saying so much in his descript It was nice reading about the life of a youth living in Lagos. For example, it is only the presence of foreign chrix that prevent the Colonel from massacring the protesters at the end of the novel.

I read Chris Abani’s book Becoming Abigail, and was terribly disappointed, but when I saw this title, I gave him another chance. It came to me just in time. I also found that the sudden introduction of the supernatural in the final chapter lifted me out of the story altogether, and diluted the power of the narrative.

And I was rewarded.

Graceland by Chris Abani

But I think Abani does care, and that actually leads to some of the worst passages in the book, which read more like narrative travel guide than good literature. This is the book selection from Nigeria for the World Cup of Literature. Chris Abani was there looking a little like Jabba the Hutt as he shoveled a plate of food into his mouth while his fiancee looked on across the table.


I picked up GraceLand because I was curious and hopeful about its novel structure.

Worth reading for its searing depiction of modern Africa, but Abani is no Chinua Achebe. In one quick scene, the protagonist Elvis Oke is young, in the yard, fetching water dhris his bath and whistling the theme song from Casablanca. I was especially fond of the way Oye speaks. Story about a young man trying to get by in Lagos slums in the s.


A powerful exploration of the costs of colonialism registered through masculinity and sexuality. White sand, in fine glittering silicon chips, clung to him, catching the sun, turning him into a patchwork fabric of diamonds and ebony. Palm oil and palm wine.

There’s that dialogue going on all the time But great music was always born from the blues. I think you can judge this book fraceland its cover.

GraceLand by Chris Abani. Byatt, and when you read Chris Abani you see exactly how the truth can kill.

There is a lyrical turning over, and over, and unfolding of each event, and the place each character holds in the story is revealed anew when seen again and again, now from this angle and now from that. And yet beyond that, he was cheis scar, carved by hate and smallness and fear onto the world’s face. Jun 19, Matt rated it it was ok.

Dec 24, Kevin Warman rated it it was amazing. A simple, straightforward narrative would have been much better than the flashbacks, African recipes and random quotes that begin every chapter. Starting out as an Elvis Presley impersonator, he takes on a wide variety of jobs, many of which place him in criminal situations. I enjoyed Song For Night and hoped Abani would deliver in this book.

I’ve always believed, “Jesus wept” is some kind of powerful. But his stories just don’t add up and a bunch of people, Nigerian and other, have noticed and written extensively about it. This familial fall-out of the dislocations and impoveri A powerful exploration of the costs of colonialism registered through masculinity and sexuality.

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Preview — GraceLand by Chris Abani. We allow access to the Western reader, but also say we don’t care about what you think. Also, there is an amazing comparative element that comes into the novel in the final scene, as Elvis reads James Baldwin on lynching, and it dawns on him that the Nigerian experience and the American one are intimately linked through the necropolitics of violence to black bodies.

Makota is a terrible place, in which, as you expect, a multitude of horrifying events unfold, but what sets this book apart from others which explore Nigeria’s brutal recent history is the honest examination of each excruciating and lovely detail of the protagonist’s life.

Quick Review: Chris Abani’s Graceland

Maybe I took too long reading it. Because bad press is the best kind of press there is. 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. Still, it was a good read.

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.

Oct 26, Saleh MoonWalker rated it liked it Shelves: