Tuesday, February 06, 2007
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.