GraceLand: A Novel

Front Cover
Picador, Jan 26, 2005 - Fiction - 336 pages
4 Reviews

Graceland is a 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 out 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 crime. 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, Innocent 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.

"A richly detailed, poignant, and utterly fascinating look into another culture and how it is cross-pollinated by our own. It brings to mind the work of Ha Jin in its power and revelation of the new."--T. Coraghessan Boyle

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dandelionroots - LibraryThing

A kid named Elvis stumbles through the shitty lot life dealt him in Nigeria, particularly Lagos and its desolate slums. Could only process a chapter at a time - compact and unsettling vignettes. Rather liked it, though. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - idyll - LibraryThing

A 'Mr. Toad's Wild Ride' through the terrible world of Nigeria in the 80's. Although it's crammed full of fascinating information and quirky characters, there are too many technical flaws in this book ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Chris Abani was born in Nigeria. At age sixteen he published his first novel, for which he suffered severe political persecution. He went into exile in 1991, and has since lived in England and the United States. His book Daphne's Lot is a collection of poetry for which he won a 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship. His book, Kalakuta Republic, is a collection of poetry based on his experience as a political prisoner in Nigeria, and received the PEN USA West Freedom-to-Write Award and the Prince Claus of the Netherlands Award. Abani lives and teaches in Los Angeles.

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