Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sandra, Book Review, *Chris Abani, *Becoming Abigail

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.

Told 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. Five stars.

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.

Posted by Sandra at Fresh Ink Books.