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. 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. 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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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 beginning of a roller coaster ride clacking you to the top of the first big hill. About halfway through I felt eager and anxious that the rest of the novel would be grafeland frightening, downward spiral—I was right.


Abani tells a story woven with interesting characters in a land less than paradise slums of Lagos ; there is always a nagging sense that things are not going to be pretty.

Having never visited a real slumI have foggy ideas of its povertyof putrid streets and filthy public toilets. Bare bedrooms and drug deals in the shadows.

Guns tucked grzceland t-shirts and barefoot children padding down litter-strewn, unpaved roads.

Details make a story unique to the author, place, and narrative. In Gracelandexamples include intermittent allusions to Igbo customs and offhand remarks mixing gracelaand, animalist beliefs into the narrative. 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. His grandmother admonishes him: You know it is taboo to whistle at night.

You will attract a spirit. Garceland are what bring it back to Lagos each time.

Atlantic Literature: Virtue, Commerce, History, and Cuisine in the novel GraceLand by Chris Abani

Palm oil and palm wine. Herbal remedies and anti-witchcraft concoctions—these are Nigerian. Still, Graceland seems to me to be a story that is—in its particulars—very Nigerian. Later, after some very scary tribulations, Elvis has an exchange with a soldier who roughs him up.


Abani expresses his impotency: This is one aabni several ” quick reviews ,” a series that provides a snapshot of international arts and culture. Follow Shaun on Twitter shaunrandol. Shaun Randol founded The Mantle in Today he is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher.

You can email him at shaun [at] themantle. Skip to main content. Chris Abani Nigeria Quick Review.

‘Graceland’ is a study in Nigeria’s many contrasts – latimes

A Conversation on Gambit and African Writing. The Parameters of Longing. Gambit The Art of Creating No.