GraceLand

A Novel

Chris Abani

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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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.

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Book Excerpts

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Graceland
Book I 
 
It seemed almost incidental that he was African. So vast had his inner perceptions grown over the years ... 
--BESSIE HEAD, A Question of PowerONE 
 
This is the kola nut. This seed is a star. This star is life. This star is us. 
 
The Igbo hold the kola nut to be sacred, offering it at every gathering and to every visitor, as a blessing, as refreshment or to seal a covenant. The prayer that precedes the breaking and sharing of the nut is: He who brings kola, brings life.

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Reviews

Praise for GraceLand

"Graceland is a grotesque, painfully hilarious look at the dark underground world of Lagos Nigeria, and it brings back vivid memories of an urban culture seemingly always on the verge of a complete societal breakdown. Chris Abani's riveting novel is an unrelenting focus on blight, squalor, savagery, and violence. It is a superbly written, structurally fascinating work and I found myself captivated by the hilarity of some of the scenes, often as I found myself on the verge of tears. It is a stunning debut by an immensely talented writer."
--Quincy Troupe, author of Transcircularity, Miles: The Autobiography and Miles and Me

"To say that this is a Nigerian or African novel is to miss the point. This absolutely beautiful work of fiction is about complex strained political structures, the irony of the West being a measure of civilization, and the tricky business of being a son. Abani's language is beautiful and his story is important."
--Percival Everett, author of Erasure: A Novel

"Chris Abani's GraceLand is 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.C. Boyle, author of Drop City

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About the Author

Chris Abani

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.

Chris Abani

Copyright Sally Hubbard
Chris Abani

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Available Formats and Book Details

GraceLand
A Novel
Chris Abani

Award

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - Nominee, L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist, Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Nominee, Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Winner, Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Finalist, Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Winner

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
January 2005
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429929820
ISBN10: 1429929820
336 pages
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
January 2005
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312425289
ISBN10: 0312425287
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 336 pages
$16.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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