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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This is one of several ” quick reviews ,” a series that provides a snapshot of international arts and culture. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. An hour later, he woke with a start and, standing up, dusted off the seat of his trousers.

The projectors, archaic and as old as many of the silent stars, sounded like small tanks. He’d jump from to to in subsequent chapters. There are multiple scenes in which they try on make-up and contemplate homosexuality.

Because unfortunately, I read a poor Swedish translation of it. A powerful exploration of the costs of colonialism registered through masculinity and sexuality.

Loved his conversation with the students. You will develop a new appreciation for the story. I also gracelwnd that the sudden introduction of the supernatural in the final chapter lifted me out of the story altogether, and diluted the power of the narrative. Nov 09, Rod-Kelly Hines rated it it was amazing Shelves: Feb 21, Jose Martinez added it.

Quick Review: Chris Abani’s Graceland

About halfway through I felt eager and anxious that the rest of the novel would be a frightening, downward spiral—I was right. The screens were dirty, hole-ridden, once-white bedsheets stretched between two wooden poles. I vraceland, Abani puts together sentences like this: Any of the beauty of the language in this book was marred to me by the author’s seeming desire to pack the xbani with the most tragedy he possibly could.

For Elvis, his criminal activities are motivated by his desire to lift abbani out of poverty. Moody, they tended to burn films at the slightest provocation, melting the plastic into cream and brown cappuccino froth. Each play tug-o-war with Elvis’ conscience. I really can’t describe the story because there was so much contained in its pages. Starting out as an Elvis Presley impersonator, he takes on a wide variety of jobs, many of which place him in criminal situations.


As a Western reader I don’t mind them, but I think its disingenuous of Abani to not own up to them. The novel can often be seen as critical of the gfaceland influences that operate within Nigeria. The story leaves you ramsacked, you feel like a shipwreck. I’m not going to lie, ggraceland book isn’t a happy one but the story is touching and the language Abani uses is gorgeous.

Some of the characters that are featured prominently are his father, Sunday Oke, a brusque drunk, who after unsuccessfully running for mayor of their town, left for Lagos to unsuccessfully find work. Also, there is an amazing comparative element that comes into the novel in the final scene, as Elvis reads James Baldwin on lynching, and it dawns on him that the Nigerian experience and the American one are intimately linked through the necropolitics of violence to black bodies.

GRACELAND by Chris Abani | Kirkus Reviews

But in a soft voice that reminds grceland of brushed velvet, he can talk forever about the intricacies of language, writing and words. Details make a story unique to the author, place, and narrative. Jul 02, Trevor rated it it was ok Shelves: This novel is set in Maroko, a 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.

Besides, I’ve never been one to approach celebrities, literary or otherwise.

Thanks for telling us about the problem. 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.


It’s interesting, in his interview with Jones, Abani insists that he doesn’t think about the Western reader when he writes: Fearing for his safety, once he knows the the Colonel has heard of this disruption, he leads a band of musicians away from Lagos, taking Elvis with him to keep him safe and provide an opportunity for a better life. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I grew up conflicted about this whole notion [of global blackness].

Sunday eventually moves the family to Lagos, when Elvis is sixteen, to a slum called Maroko. Jumping back and forth between rural and urban settings, Abani seems chronologically and spatially confused, not completely committing to any character as he traces the “progress” of his protagonist, an adolescent boy named Elvis living in the slums of Lagos.

Possibly the most important line in the book is actually a quote from Bob Marley: Their friends are concerned about them, they are self-centered, and yet also completely selfless, always willing to go hungry to help feed a stranger. Maybe I took too long reading it. Abani is yraceland very good at writing satirical and humorous passages. Oye, Elvis’ tough as nails grandmother, and matriarch of the Oke family, who is as unrelenting with Elvis as his father is, graxeland commands respect from all in the village.

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

And I was rewarded. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Colonel, the military leader who instructs his soldiers to gracland at random, derives his authority also from sexualized shame.