Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani - Review

Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani

Novella, 121 pages Paperback

2006 Nigeria

I've heard only good things about this writer and thought I'd start with a novella to get a taste of his work. All I can say is what a writer!

In Nigeria, Abigail has lived a lonely life with her father who is still pines for his dead wife. At fourteen, Abigail looks so much like her mother that her father is emotionally undone by it. He sends her to England with her Uncle Peter, to what he thinks will be a better life for her. Her uncle is fact a monster, who forces her and other young ones into prostitution. But not without fierce resistance from Abigail who eventually commits a desperate act and flees.
In spare but lyrical writing, and with great compassion, Nigerian poet and author Chris Abani relates a heartbreaking story of loneliness and betrayal that is unforgettable. This is neither an easy read nor a happy story, which are a dime a dozen and don't do much for me. But I recommend it highly.

I have now set my sights on Graceland, a novel which garnered several awards. Also set in Nigeria, Graceland tells the story of a boy who wants desperately to get out of the slums of Lagos, with its poverty and hopelessness. I can't wait to read it.

Have you read either of these novels? What did you think? Feel free to leave a link to any review of Abani's work that you've written, I'd love to read it. And I always welcome good reading recommendations.

Recent Posts: The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (review)
Best Books of 2009
What's on My Nightstand?


  1. damn! never heard of this author! and I actually liked the cover. it is dark, suits the story.

    Thank you for the recommendation, I will try and get this one :)

    Have a good week ahead!

  2. I feel like there's importance to books that present different worlds, especially if the book ends up well written and actually good. It's easy to see that this isn't going to be a light, easy story to read but I feel like if it's properly done, it could be very important.

  3. Wow, that sounds like a very powerful and emotional book. I'm going to write this author down.

  4. This sounds like a book I want to read. Thanks for the great review. I am putting Chris Abani on my list of authors to check out at my library.

  5. hey

    just registered and put on my todo list

    hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

  6. hi everybody

    just signed up and wanted to say hello while I read through the posts

    hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

  7. This sounds like a really interesting novella, I'm so glad that you liked it. I've read only one book by Abani, The Virgin of Flames, but really enjoyed it. I do want to read more by him so thank you for this recommendation!



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