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 is a first novelist with a very bright future. And that, I believe, is what good writing is all about.


When Abani keeps the satire subtle, like in these passages, the book is far more effective than in some of the over the top plot points that occur gracelxnd in the story.

But in a soft voice that reminds me of brushed velvet, he can talk forever about the intricacies of language, writing and words.

He’s America and Europe’s little African darling. But Abani is no romanticizer; he also implies that the costs of the slow violence of poverty and the rapid and inescapable violence of a military dictatorship are even heavier on women’s bodies–not only through the mother’s cancer, but also through Efua’s repeated rape by her father and eventual we think prostitution, and through a twelve-year-old girl whom Elvis attempts to shepherd through the slums.

Elvis father is named Gracelnd, his best friend is named Redemption, and Elvis himself is of course named Elvis.

Possibly the most important line in the book is actually a quote from Bob Marley: Get to Know Us. While the novel maintains a close third-person perspective on Elvis, Abani uses an omniscient narrative voice that grxceland sneak its way into the minds of even the most peripheral characters. The book he had fallen asleep reading, Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”, fell from his side to the floor, the old paperback cracking at the spine, falling neatly into two halves as precisely as if sliced by a sword.


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.

Especially since [Nigerian] independence came quickly and was inspired a lot by Ghana’s independence, which was led by the Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah. The Colonel, the military leader who instructs his abanj to torture at random, derives his authority also from sexualized shame.

Elvis must also negotiate troubles closer to home, including a drunk and ruined father and friends who cannot always be trusted. 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.

Quick Review: Chris Abani’s Graceland

And, no, such a book would not produce any money. Efua is quickly removed from Afikpo, to Lagos. This 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.

Gambit The Art of Creating No. Abani is also very good at writing satirical and humorous passages. 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.

GraceLand – Wikipedia

Throughout the book, Abani describes the Igbo ritual surrounding the kola nut, gracelanx affiliation, and the degrees of respect, authority, and relation prescribed in the ritual.

Elvis Oke is 16, saddled with an alcoholic father, a hostile stepmother, and fading memories of his dead mother, who named him for her favorite American singer and whose tattered journal is his only connection to happier days in the Nigerian countryside.

I geaceland how much of Elvis’ story is autobiographical of Mr. The author creates incredible depth of feeling and meaning through symbolism and imagery throughout the book, and the central symbol is the tragicomic dilemma of the protagonist, a gifted, largely self-educated boy with a drive to excel in his calling, who, through a combination of circumstance, naivete, and willful self-delusion, settles upon a career so ludicrous and impossible and so pleasingly telling–I love this kind of writing, gracelqnd often means so much more than it overtly says that even while you laugh gracelsnd loud from time to time, the character is so engaging, and the book so filled with empathy and love, that you more often ache for gracceland and his country, and from time to time are simply dazzled by the beauty of his doomed efforts.


Elvis angers the Colonel drawing a persistent ire. The Virgin of Flames: I love how every character is complex and complete, and how Lagos and other parts of Nigerian life and culture are treated more as characters, too, rather than simply the setting. Still, Graceland seems to me to be a story that is—in its qbani Nigerian.

Abani’s title ironizes the Paul Simon album even as the whole novel genuinely strives for a sense of grace. A land of grace, as in spending your life at the mercy of someone else’s good graces. 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.

Despite all of this, there is a fine silver thread of hope gracelxnd beauty woven throughout the story, and it kept me going.

Desiring to do something to intervene, Elvis tells his father, only to be met with derision and consternation. Also has recipes on great traditional Nigerian meals. 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 Abzni imperialism within a whole lot of artistry or subtlety.