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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He’d jump from to to in subsequent chapters. In the very first scene of the book, when the protagonist Elvis is awoken by a pounding Nigerian rainstorm, we read this: Besides, I’ve never been one to approach celebrities, literary or otherwise.


I liked the feel vivid sense it gave of Nigeria at that time. But up on stage Abani impressed me more than just about anyone else with the exception, probably, of Kei Miller.

In one quick scene, the protagonist Elvis Oke is young, in the yard, fetching water for his bath and whistling the theme song from Casablanca. I didn’t find the main character’s voice so probable, though, which is why I think I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

Abani is also very good at writing satirical and humorous passages. I think you can judge this book by its cover. Details are what bring it back to Lagos each time. What’s disturbing and therefore powerful about Graceland is knowing that Abani’s novel is most likely true. Possibly the most important line in the book is actually a quote from Bob Marley: Graceland isn’t quite up there, it’s a little too self-conscious and meandering for that, but it’s a very good read nonetheless.

And from that lunch over fried chicken, collard greens and mac and cheese, I would imagine Abani is a helluva teacher. All articles with dead fraceland links Articles with dead external links from October Articles with permanently dead external links Pages to import images to Wikidata. Unfortunately, like many “African” books, the characters fall under the will of corruption and violence. The King organizes the residents, who in a desperate act of social unrest, hold off the bulldozers temporarily.


Whether its Manila or Lagos, each soul, for better or for worse, is forced to angle their own path to survival. Views Read Edit View history. 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.

Gambit The Art of Creating No. Given the current political and social reality, story-telling the Dark Continent is inextricably abami to the politics of representation, regardless of whether the author’s intent is benign or not. You can see this link much more in music. See all 61 reviews. His poems were beautiful, his stories where funny, and the man knows how to play sax.

Quick Review: Chris Abani’s Graceland

Graceland is the story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme. While I certainly think it’s about time a mass-market paperback about the current conditions in industrialized West Africa, Abani presents his critique of American imperialism within a whole lot of artistry or subtlety.

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.

This includes murder, corruption, rape, drug smuggling, human trafficking, child prostitution, torture, and theft. This knowledge, associated with femininity, sustains Elvis throughout the narrative. These sections at first seem showy and tacked on, but by the end of the book their significance becomes clearer. The final chapters, though, did not maintain the breathtaking beauty and sadness of the first half of the book, and the characters, so engaging and full at first, flattened out a bit.

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I mean, Abani puts together sentences like this: Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. Through one of these jobs–a job where Elvis provides companionship to rich, foreign women in nightclubs–Elvis angers a character known only as the Colonel, a powerful military figurehead, who rules through fear and with violence, and engages in many different acts of corruption.

Gracelandlike Jessica Hagedorn’s novels Dogeaters or Dream Junglecrams fistfuls of characters into bustling Third World nightmares. Ships from and sold by BookishCorner.

This story made me laugh, cry and kiss my teeth. The Triumph of the Water Lily.

GraceLand – Wikipedia

Throughout the novel, Abani also threads the recipe book from Elvis’s dead mother, which demonstrates the culinary connection to the local environment that has now been severed as Elvis and his father live in a slum which in turn is destroyed! Refresh and try again. There’s a problem loading this menu right now. By contrast, the titular character Elvis, who dreams of earning a living through dance and thrives in the costume and make-up that he adopts to impersonate the American icon, has these fleeting moments of corporeal bliss and queer pleasure that open up a temporary space outside this domain of shame and pain.

Here is what Abani tells Tayari Jones about the scene in an April interview in In the very first scene of the book, when the protagonist Elvis is awoken by a pounding Nigerian rainstorm, we read this: And he influenced people like Fela Kuti. Follow Shaun on Twitter shaunrandol.