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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They are moral anchors in a world that has seemingly lost its moral compass.

Which begs the question, hraceland much Chris Abani is there in Elvis and Black? Graceland is an Inferno on earth, and Abani’s hero, Elvis, follows the footsteps of Florentine pilgrim, Dante. I’ve always believed, “Jesus wept” is some kind of powerful. Views Read Edit View history. But I think Abani does care, and that actually leads to some of the worst passages in the book, which read more like narrative travel guide than good literature.

Sept 6 33 Jun 26, It is in Lagos, that Elvis quickly has to learn about the world and survival.


Be the first to discover new talent! A captivating story that is marred by really poor structure. Chris Abani, then, is incredibly irresponsible.

I was very moved by Abani’s exploration of masculinity, sexuality, and authority and the relationship of sex and gender to colonial exploitation and its continuing fall-out. Let’s get back to the author then.

I love how every character is complex and complete, and how Lagos and other parts of Nigerian life and culture gracelanx treated more as characters, too, rather than simply the setting.


At first, Elvis found it was dizzy work just trying to keep focused, until he learned the popular trick was to sway from side to side while squinting off to the left. Except the poor sods who live in the dark slum that you’re describing so abank for your audience.

GraceLand – Wikipedia

Mar 02, Kathryn rated it really liked it Shelves: The richness of the traditions and the complexities of the extended African family don’t always translate well into a western “lexicon”. The retailers in turn passed the cost of the deposit on to consumers if they intended to leave the immediate vicinity of their shops with the drinks.

You know it is taboo to whistle at night. And gracfland the book there is the waning influence of British colonial rule, the loss of indigenous knowledge, and the expanding influence of American pop culture.

Graceland CL first read: What I like about the book is the poetry, the sheer grace of the language.

It makes people curious. The consequences of this is a protagonist who is hyper self-conscious. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

This was a book that needed discussion. For Elvis, his criminal activities are motivated by his desire to lift himself out of poverty. Barring the occasional bout of motion sickness, this worked quite well, and Elvis often wondered what it would be like to stand above and look down.

Later, after some very scary tribulations, Elvis has an exchange with a soldier who roughs him up. As Elvis matures from self indulgent and naive boy to awakened man, he’s initiated into the sinful ways of his world, and, like Dante, he sees firsthand how degrees of sin match degrees of survival.


He is also Elvis’ protector and eventual savior, giving Elvis his passport so that he gracekand move to America Aunt Felicia has married a Nigerian ex-pat doctor living in Las Vegas. None of these characters are dismissible or caricatured, and Elvis builds intimate relationships with him, as he tries to figure out who to be the Elvis impersonation seems like a great metaphor for chriz quest to figure out how to embody masculinity.

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 American imperialism within a whole lot of artistry or subtlety. You can email him at shaun [at] themantle. I really struggled to finish, which is a shame, since Abani created quite the grand finale.

Here is what Abani tells Tayari Jones about the scene in an April interview in In the very first scene gfaceland the book, when the protagonist Elvis is awoken by a pounding Nigerian rainstorm, we read this: The book is at its best when it sticks to the coming of age story of its protagonist, Elvis Oke. The chros of criminality, which is also addressed through a number of other characters, is useful in discussing the justifications of crime.

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