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Graceland by Chris Abani
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Graceland (2004)

by Chris Abani

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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 for me. The main character is frustratingly passive, POV shifts are dizzying, and apparently the author never heard of 'show don't tell'. ( )
  idyll | Apr 9, 2013 |
I had the hardest time beginning to read this book. I'm not sure it was anything wrong with the book, but for some reason every time I started it I couldn't follow through. I finally willed myself to get this book read and I'm glad I did. I liked the book, I feel like the description of the book doesn't do it justice though. I can't really say that it doesn't fit or is wrong, because it's not--- it's just so much more. First here's what it says: "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. Nuances, lyrical, and pitch perfect, tis is a remarkable story of a son and his father, and a examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme." But this book touches on everything, I feel like Elvis' dancing and "the trappings of American culture" did not make as much of an impact in this story as the coming of age journey set behind the mess of the life in the ghetto. Military clashing and a number of fringe jobs they show for survival make this story come alive. The discussions about the military governments and what if anything can be done really made the book feel real. My only issue was I feel there was excessive and needless sexual references---- not that I'm a prude, and to be fair everything felt so real. Confessions this boy is thinking and feeling feel remarkably honest, and I do love that though. So that's not much of a gripe since I both liked and disliked it.

I wished I had jotted down notes or had read this on my Kindle where I could highlight. There was some amazing quotes in this book. Having just finished the book tonight I can at least mark one I read today:

"Funds? What funds? Let me tell you, dere are no bigger tiefs dan dose World Bank people. Let me tell you how de World Bank helps us. Say dey offer us ten-million-loa for creating potable and clean water supply to rural areas. If we accept, dis is how dey do us. First dey tell us dat we have to use de expertise of their consultants, so dey remove two million for salaries and expenses. Den dey tell us dat de consultants need equipment to work, like computer, jeeps or bulldozers, and for hotel and so on, so dey take another two million. Den dey say we cannot build ne boreholes but must service existing one, so dey take another two million to buy parts. All dis money, six million of it, never leave de U.S. Den dey use two million for de project, but it is not enough, so dey abandon it, and den amy bosses take de remaining two million. Now we, you and I and all dese poor people, owe de World Bank ten million dollars for nothing. Dey are all tiefs and I despise dem--- our people and de World Bank people!"

Just a good example of how this book is so much more, it brings about many ideas, problems, and realities. ( )
  LibrarianDanielle | Mar 30, 2013 |
What was it that Chuck D. said? Elvis was a hero to most...? A Nigerian teenage Elvis impersonator will do anything to find the American Dream. ( )
1 vote mpho3 | Apr 13, 2012 |
Graceland by Chris Abani was an excellent book, good pace, excellent detail, and wonderfully full characters.
Elvis, the main character, stays true to the themes of a lot of African literature, forming some of his most salient relations with the women in his life. A maturation story of sorts—a maturation nearly truncated by the corrupt and desolate political, social and economic environments of Lagos.
The tension between rural, "traditional" Igbo cultural and the urban Lagos is another common theme in African literature and thankfully Abani is not overly sentimental, managing to show the differences without romanticizing the rural.
Abani had fun with character names: Redemption, his best friend, Comfort, his stepmother, Innocent, his cousin, they are all ironic and apt, taking their roles in Elvis’s life.
The whole organ-harvesting thing was rather sensationalist-- and it made Lagos seem like the worst city in the world, but, as the author points out, Lagos has the highest population of both billionaires and paupers.
Read it and let me know what you think. ( )
1 vote Batspit | Feb 6, 2007 |
This novel gives the reader many details about life in Nigeria, particularly the capital Lagos, in the late 20th century. Protagonist Elvis lives an urban life that is by turns bountiful, busy, squalid, dangerous, and mundane. Each chapter includes some aspect of the Ibo or related African language and a recipe including serving suggestions. Elvis maintains an uneasy relationship with his father. He reveres the memory of his deceased mother. Elvis keeps strongs relationships with several of the women and girls in his family. His best friend is a neer-do-well survivor interestingly named Redemption.
the novel ends fantastically. It seemed to me that the author stretched to include some of the material covered in the novel. Many compelling scenes.
Note: the audiobook, as read by author Chris Abani, starts slowly. The author seems to have little interest in his characters and story at first. The reading becomes more nuanced at the story progresses. ( )
1 vote twojcik | Nov 14, 2006 |
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Detta är orden från älskande, från dansare, från makalösa sångare. Detta är sånger om du känner musiken. - Amiri Baraka
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Delphine, Stella and Daphne

whenever, wherever, whatever
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This is the kola nut.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312425287, Paperback)

"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

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. Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, this is a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Born into poverty in the chaotic capital city of Nigeria, Elvis is tempted by the underworld and enters a life of crime, encountering beggers, musicians, and American pop culture as he tries to survive in postcolonial Nigeria.

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