GraceLand by Chris Abani
A Novel

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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 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.


About Chris Abani

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Chris Abani's fiction and poetry has been widely anthologized. His latest 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.
Published January 26, 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 341 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Sensitive and bookish, Elvis tries to make a living as a Presley impersonator, dancing and singing for handouts from tourists, but he’s tempted by his friend Redemption to make quick cash ferrying drugs and other contraband for the sinister Colonel, nastiest of the corrupt, vicious soldiers whose...

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Publishers Weekly

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One of Elvis's friends is named Redemption, but in the end it is Elvis who claims this moniker, both literally and symbolically.

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Star Tribune

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We later discover that his life is shot through with a bittersweet ambition: Elvis dreams of heading to America to sing and dance with the real Elvis, never knowing that his hero has been dead for years.

Feb 07 2004 | Read Full Review of GraceLand: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

" Melvin Jules Bukiet Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars "In depicting how deeply external politics can affect internal thinking, GraceLand announces itself as a worthy heir to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Oct 23 2009 | Read Full Review of GraceLand: A Novel

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