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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Bare bedrooms and gracekand deals in the shadows. We follow Elvis his real namea Nigerian teenager who longs to dance and do his Elvis impersonation what commentary on internal colonization in that one characteristic! In the final scene of the book, Elvis is sitting at the terminal awaiting departure of his flight, and he reminisces about avani of the torture and horror that he has experienced and witnessed, wondering if he will be successful in life in the States, while holding onto regret for not being able to take care of the other characters who have taken care of him to be able to get him to this point.

GraceLand by Chris Abani

Redemption is a counterbalance to Elvis as he represents all those who are left behind, can’t leave, or provide the opportunity to those they care about for a better life. His character highlights the rampant corruption, manipulation, and military control of the government sweeping through Nigeria at this time, following the Civil War, keeping the country poor and reeling. The ten year old smoking the cigarette says as much about Chris Abani’s over-stated portrait of poverty in Lagos as any of the prose within.

Abani has his characters reference both Nigerian Achebe, Soyinka and Western Ellison, Dostoevsky, Marley writers to create a picture of a world that’s become an interconnected web long before modern communications made it obvious; the characters rarely set foot outside their own city, yet thanks to the cultural, commercial and political revolutions of the past centuries they very much live in the Big World Outside.

He was pretty much screwed from the beginning, if poverty didn’t gracland him, success would; an irony as bitter as the situation in what could have been one of the richest countries in Africa. Let’s get back to the author then. Feel better, more open, later. And I see a lot of it happening in literature as well. Details are what bring it back to Lagos each time. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


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. The Colonel, the military leader who instructs his soldiers to torture at random, derives his authority also from sexualized shame. I’m not going to lie, this book isn’t a happy one but the story aabani touching and the language Abani uses is gracelans.

Elvis Oke, a teenage Elvis impersonator spurred on by the triumphs of heroes in the American movies and books he devours, pursues his chosen vocation with ardent single- This novel is set in Maroko, chdis sprawling, swampy, crazy and colorful ghetto of Lagos, Nigeria, and unfolds against a backdrop of lush reggae and highlife music, American movies and a harsh urban existence.

There were times where I had to close the book and take a moment. Maybe I took too long reading it.

GRACELAND by Chris Abani | Kirkus Reviews

In that respect, we also see the over-reach of American and Western culture and ideals. 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. Starting out as an Elvis Presley impersonator, he takes on a wide variety of jobs, many of which place him in criminal situations.

Gracelans book is one of those books that, no matter how intense and devastating its content, is written so well that you just don’t want it to end. A large part of the novel is concerned with the concept of criminality.

We see the results in alcoholism, rape, and domestic violence.

This not only represents the splitting of the diaspora but the ability to enter the text in a way that he wouldn’t be able to if he didn’t share that fundamental racial heritage. Abani is a gifted writer. I was especially fond of the way Oye speaks. Some of the characters that are featured prominently are his father, Sunday Oke, a brusque drunk, who after GraceLand is about man named Elvis Oke, told in alternating narratives between the time he arrives in Lagos and the time of his life living in an area called Afikpo, prior to arriving in Lagos.

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Any time a book is discussed in my book club, I find I come to appreciate the book more than I did while reading it. Redemption, a fellow teenager, who has grown up in the slums of Lagos and has developed a keen street savvy, helps Elvis find work n a variety of illicit and curious jobs. What I like about the book is the poetry, the sheer grace of the language.


Details make a story unique to the author, place, and narrative. Some people name their children after saints or forefathers in the hope that they will be, well, graced with their good sides. Publishers Weekly highlighted its two-fold ability to tell the story of Elvis, and the larger issues of poverty and globalization: Jul 10, Rona Fernandez rated it really liked it Recommends it for: The writer wonderfully describes the significance of the Kola, the importance and power of traditional medicines and those that practice them, and the ggraceland are fun.

There were parts I enjoyed. This novel blew me away!

His dreams and hopes feed off movies and music, which are then appropriated and made new by his Nigerian culture. Jul 03, Michelle rated it it was ok Shelves: I understand that this was a troubling and difficult time in the country’s history, but by the end of the book it was like an absurdist comedy, and I just wanted it graceeland be over, as opposed to feeling deeply effected and moved, as I abain was the intent. It’s like heart yoga.

His, and the corpses of many others, are left amidst the rubble as a message to survivors. Which unfortunately affected my enjoyment of the book. Chris Abani Nigeria Quick Review. May 25, Cat rated it it was amazing.

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart! Though the characters are make believe, anyone who reads the newspapers or watches the BBC news knows that Elvis’ journey grsceland everyday.

Quick Review: Chris Abani’s Graceland

To ensure they got their bottles back, the factory charged local retailers a deposit on the bottles, which could only graeland redeemed when the bottles were turned in. The story leaves you ramsacked, you feel like a shipwreck. Oct 26, Saleh MoonWalker rated it liked it Shelves: