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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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. The vulnerable, wide-eyed protagonist is Elvis Graeland, a young Nigerian with a penchant for dancing and impersonating the American rock-and-roll singer he is named after.

The story alternates between Elvis’s early years in the s, when his mother dies of cancer and leaves him with a disapproving father, abain his life as a teenager in the Lago ghetto, a place one character calls “a pus-ridden eyesore on de graaceland of de nation’s capital.

Sprinkled throughout the book are recipes and entries from Elvis’s mother’s journal, as well as descriptions of the kola nut ceremony through which an Igbo boy becomes a man. These sections at first seem showy and tacked on, but by the end of the book their significance becomes clearer. The book is most powerful when it refrains from polemic and didacticism and simply follows its protagonist on his daily journey through the violent, harsh Nigerian landscape.

Elvis must also negotiate troubles closer to home, including a drunk and ruined father and friends who cannot always be trusted. In this book, abwni are destiny, “selected with care by your family and given to you as a talisman.

Elvis Oke, a teenage Elvis impersonator in Lagos, Nigeria, attempts to come of age in spite absni an alcoholic father traceland beats him and a soul-crushing ghetto environment that threatens to engulf him. Beset by floods, vermin, and the ubiquitous Colonel, chief of military security in Lagos, Elvis lives from day to day, saturated by a bizarrely out of date, misunderstood version of American pop culture and remembering his life in the country before his mother died and his father lost his career.

Immigration to the U. The novel offers a vibrant picture of an alien yet somehow parallel culture, and while the plot runs off the rails from time to time, the mix of surrealistic horror and cross-cultural humor is irresistible. Abani is a first novelist with a very bright future. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a graxeland for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

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 Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way gracelland of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of gfaceland.

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, Ahani and Comfort. Ultimately, young Elvis, drenched in reggae and jazz, and besotted with American film heroes and images, must find his way to a GraceLand of his own.

Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, Abani has created a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria where the trappings of American culture reign supreme. Read more Read less. Add both to Cart Add both to List. These items are shipped from and sold by different sellers.

Buy the selected items together This item: Ships from and sold by BookishCorner. Ships from and sold by Amazon. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. The Virgin of Flames: We Need New Names: The Secret History of Las Vegas: From Publishers Weekly Abani’s debut novel offers a searing chronicle of grcaeland young man’s coming of age traceland Nigeria during the late s and early s.


Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition February 15, Language: A Novel on your Kindle in under a abanii. Don’t have a Kindle? Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Is this feature helpful? Thank you for your feedback. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

Read reviews that mention chris abani hraceland nut main character year old king of beggars back and forth young man friend redemption good read presley impersonator father sunday nigerian culture well written elvis gracelanc sixteen year small village elvis impersonator mother journal present to the past elvis and his alcoholic father. Showing of 61 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Elvis tries to make his way in Nigeria. He has been named after an American entertainer who he tries to imitate meanwhile he fights with his father, the failed politician Sunday, and has to cope with his father’s new wife comfort.

There is action as Elvis must flee what he knows after a shady deal comes apart. The story bounces back and forth between the character’s present and past and I really found it to be a page turner; and despite it being an assigned book I loved it! Well worth the read. Chris Abani’s GraceLand is the story of sixteen-year-old Elvis, a Nigerian teenager living in Lagos in who wants nothing more than to be an Elvis Presley impersonator.

That summary alone is what got me to pick up Abani’s novel, but what is even more impressive than Elvis’s characterization is the cultural and worldly scope in which Abani crafts Elvis’s story. While the novel maintains a close third-person perspective on Elvis, Abani uses an omniscient narrative voice that can sneak its way into the minds of even the most peripheral characters.

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 gracelannd – at their basest level – the hopes and dreams of a country.

: GraceLand: A Novel (): Chris Abani: Books

The non-chronological story telling method Abani utilizes functions as a spiral. I like to picture a conch shell while thinking of the novel now, the winding walls becoming narrower and narrower as the story closes in on itself. The dramatic presence takes place in Lagos inafter Elvis and his estranged father, Sunday, have moved from their small village into Maroko, a Lagos slum.

Every alternating chapter brings us back into the past, starting with Elvis as a five-year-old little boy and moving all the way up to his present so that both times eventually meet, in an almost seamless fashion. Within these time shifts, Abani also includes excerpts from Elvis’s mother’s diary – recipes for traditional Nigerian dishes and identifications of different plants and roots that can be used to cure maladies.


Along with these recipes is the gracleand of the kola nut ritual, an ancient tradition rite that allows a family to see what kind of adults their children will become. By including both familial artifacts and cultural lore, Abani widens the scope of Elvis’s story so much so that Nigeria becomes more of the protagonist, rather than Elvis. The grceland cast of characters surrounding Elvis is a strong showing of both characterization and storytelling. The two most memorable are Sunday, and Elvis’s close friend, Redemption.

There is a quiet scene where Elvis realizes he has called Sunday “Dad” for the first time. This recognition is heartbreaking in both Elvis’s realization of this fact and in his father’s resignation to his failure as a parent.

The end to Sunday’s story, then, carries even more weight than it would have without that small, little scene. Redemption is a firecracker of a character, bringing energy into every scene he occupies. He is akin to those characters in movies or on certain television shows that, even though they may not be main characters, take over every scene that they are in.


He is the force that pushes Elvis into new and dangerous situations, and he is also one of the only characters that never truly leaves Elvis behind. He is a stunning creation, and I greatly admire Abani’s drawing of him as a character. I have two complaints regarding GraceLand. One is where the female characters are concerned. While Elvis is surrounded by strong women in his past – his mother, his grandmother, and his aunt, among others – they disappear as his journey progresses.

I felt a bit cheated, like the male characters were more developed and the female characters functioned as sources of tragedy or of frustration. I would have liked to see Abani do more with them. The other complaint I have is the novel’s length. While it is a sweeping, dramatic story, I truly believe Abani could have told just as powerful a story in a novel that has a hundred less pages. GraceLand is original, emotional, and visceral.

It is a portrayal of a boy forced to grow up too fast, and of a country forced into turmoil, violence, and hope. The news out of Africa is so bad so much of time that it takes a writer of rare skill to make us pay attention.

Nigerian Chris Abani is such a writer.

Quick Review: Chris Abani’s Graceland

He tells Elvis Oke’s bumpy, brutal coming of age story with immense skill and verve. We follow Elvis, an aspiring dancer and Elvis Presley impersonator, as he and his family migrate from their rural village to the teeming slums of Lagos during the early s. Abani’s supple prose pulls in Igbo tribal lore, the smashed remnants of a failed modern state and the glittery artifacts of global pop culture.

He seduces you through detail. You are with Elvis in the beat down dirt of his country bungalow and in his rat infested, waterlogged Lagos apartment, seeing what he sees and feeling what he feels. This is artistic witchcraft of a high order, as rare as it is precious. Elvis’ life contains many horrible things, and the reader is spared none of them: These moments are redeemed by humor, the kindness Elvis and his friends show one another, and the insistent humanity of these very average people, a humanity that refuses to be crushed by poverty or beaten down by the rifle butts of government soldiers.

It’s a wild ride, and you come to the end of it all shook up, but as sixteen year old Elvis gets ready to fly off and join his auntie in America Las Vegas, no lessyou share his feelings of hope and determination. Before he emigrated to Britain and then the US, Abani was arrested for his writing and tortured by the Nigerian government. Like Elvis, he survived a brutal upbringing; this novel is testament to the clarity, courage and compassion with which he faced the trials of his life.

First of all, I may have a clue as to what made the novel notable, but the lack of any closure still bothers me. It’s a fact of life, I get it, but that was the whole point of reading fiction, which is to ignore the fact that there is no closure to the tragedies or horror i was exposed to. I read the novel with false hopes all the way to the end, and the ending was my punishment for it.

Pretty good novel, though. A deeply personal postmodern masterpiece. Also be sure to read the somber audio book performed by the author.