I've been wanting to read Chris Abani's novels for the longest time and I was finally able to do so the other day. Becoming Abigail is Abani's second novella and it really does say a lot for being so short around pages. It may be a really quick read, but it wasn't an easy read. Becoming Abigail tells the story of Abigail, a young girl from Nigeria whose mother, also known as Abigail, died at childbirth. The novella has two strands, 'Now' and 'Then', through which Abani tells a terribly, haunting story. Her move to England, which was meant to be the beginning of a new life, led to only more abuse.
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Preview — Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani. Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani. Tough, spirited, and fiercely independent Abigail is brought as a teenager to London from Nigeria by relatives who attempt to force her into prostitution. She flees, struggling to find herself in the shadow of a strong but dead mother. In spare yet haunting and lyrical prose reminiscent of Marguerite Duras, Abani brings to life a young woman who lives with a strength and i Tough, spirited, and fiercely independent Abigail is brought as a teenager to London from Nigeria by relatives who attempt to force her into prostitution.
In spare yet haunting and lyrical prose reminiscent of Marguerite Duras, Abani brings to life a young woman who lives with a strength and inner light that will enlighten and uplift the reader. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 15th by Akashic Books first published March 1st More Details Original Title.
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Apr 14, Trish rated it really liked it Shelves: british , crime , horror , immigration , adolescence , fiction , family , gritty , literature , africa. Chris Abani is a novelist and poet who often writes about his native Nigeria. Graceland , his novel about a boy in whiteface growing up poor in Lagos, broke onto the literary scene like a storm.
Since then, Abani has written several books of poetry, as well as novels and novellas, all of which look frankly at conditions under which the most exploitable among us must live. Becoming Abigail looks at the life of a young girl raised by her father in Nigeria. Her mother, also called Abigail, died in bi Chris Abani is a novelist and poet who often writes about his native Nigeria.
The story opens in London, where the fourteen-year-old Abigail was brought by a "cousin" after the death of her father. Abigail feels responsible for all the pain in her world. The cousin dresses her in thick makeup and skirts too short.
Abigail looks much older than fourteen. Her confusion about safety, trust, love makes her vulnerable, and at the same time, invulnerable. It is a searing experience.
One would think that, having viewed the worst in humankind, the author would have no kindness within him, but the opposite appears to be true. He embodies a generosity of spirit that refreshes. This short novella can be read in a sitting. Abani's clarity and willingness to examine truth is what makes his writing exceptional and essential. This novella is informative for what it tells us of experience, and how that forms or deforms us.
View 2 comments. Nov 18, Mattia Ravasi rated it liked it. My original review was one line went simply "It does bite hard. Seriously though, a haunting short story. Loved this novella from the brilliant Nigerian poet and author Chris Abani, who desribes himself as a "zealot of optimism".
The story is focused on a young Nigerian girl "Abigail" who's mother of the same name died giving birth to her. It shows both the daughter's and her father's ways of dealing with her death, and the daughter's escape from prostitution. Difficult topic, done with superb narrative. Very powerful work. View 1 comment. Sep 02, Endora harris rated it it was amazing.
This book is beyond belief! The treatment regarding abuse of women in Africa and its attached social ills are piled up like a deck of cards then they all come tumbling down-like the establishment should. I loved this book, but you better have a strong stomach to deal with what's really going on. Nov 26, Stephanie rated it liked it. Incredibly beautiful imagery. Abani is doing wonderful things with language, and his style is to the point, sharp, and startling, and his images are striking. There were, however, a few areas where the repetition of certain phrases and words were distracting.
If this had come up in one of my workshops, I would have had a lot to say about using the word "loam" in nearly every chapter. Apr 08, Sheila rated it it was amazing Shelves: audiobook. I listened to the audible narration by Robin Miles - for someone who doesn't usually like female narrators, she did a great one. This is my first read of Chris Abani and I am sure it won't be my last and I think I will even read this book again as I think his work, poetic and abrasive at the same time, deserves close reading.
It is a difficult topic well written with the novella's structure switching between The and Now chapters - this helps us as a reader cope with the terror and loneliness tha I listened to the audible narration by Robin Miles - for someone who doesn't usually like female narrators, she did a great one.
It is a difficult topic well written with the novella's structure switching between The and Now chapters - this helps us as a reader cope with the terror and loneliness that Abigail is subjected to and allows us to really feel her isolation, the confusion and conflict within her as she tries to deal with the pain in her life and her circumstances.
I suspect the ending in particular will give book groups something to get their teeth into - the whole question of choice and of the inevitabile consequences of abuse. Mar 31, Ama Darkoaa rated it liked it. Becoming Abigail is a short haunting story that hits very hard.
May 02, Chelsea rated it it was amazing Shelves: absolute-favorite , literary-fiction , heartbreakingly-beautiful. The book is about a young girl, Abigail, who is named for her mother, who dies during childbirth.
Abigail comes from a Nigerian family, a highly patriarchal culture, and her father is completely distraught over his wifes death. His pain is made worse by the fact that Abigail looks just like her mother, causing her father to see only his dead wife in her. Abigail also suffers from bouts of insanity, spurred by her search for identity — she is compared to her mother so often by her father that she The book is about a young girl, Abigail, who is named for her mother, who dies during childbirth.
Abigail also suffers from bouts of insanity, spurred by her search for identity — she is compared to her mother so often by her father that she begins to loose sight of her own self, which she attempts to document by literally branding phrases, poetry, and memories of her mother on her skin.
Although Abigail ends up getting her rather fitting, albeit it rather disturbing revenge, the pain she has to go through is almost incomprehensible. After the culminating incident with Peter, Abigail meets her social worker Derek which is one of my favorite names EVER and the two fall into a passionate but completely illicit affair, for which Derek is inevitably arrested. Chris Abani is an amazing man, a published writer since the age of 16, imprisoned three times by the Nigerian state, sentenced to death once, who is an amazing novelist, poet, and social rights activist.
Something over. We know this. This is the prevalence of ritual. The remember something that cannot be forgotten. Yet not left over. She knew this. As she smoked. And what now? The way it would threaten the world gently, dropping dark clouds over the brightness of an afternoon, wind whipping trees in dark play. Then the smell; carried from afar, the lushness of wet, moisture-heavy eath, heralding the first cold stabs of water that seemed to just be practicing for the torrent that was about to come.
There was the open pleasure of Covent Garden with its flower shops, vegetable stalls, colorful barrow boy calls, the new market with with stall after stall selling trinkets that nobody needed to people who should know better.
There were street musicians everywhere filling the hallowed halls of the Underground with their melancholic worship. Of the complexities of life and how you can never recapture the way a particular shaft of light, falling through a tree, patterned the floor in a shower of shadows.
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Book Review: Chris Abani's 'Becoming Abigail'
By: Chris Abani. A breathtaking novella from the award-winning author of Song for Night and GraceLand. Becoming Abigail is more compressed and interior [than GraceLand ], a poetic treatment of terror and loneliness. The small canvas suits Chris Abani. Abigail is sensitive, courageous, and teetering on the brink of madness. Effortlessly gliding between past and present, Chris Abani spins a timeless story of misfortune and triumph.
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In the UK right now, there is a real taste for true-life biographies about child abuse. The covers usually feature black-and-white photos of sad-faced kids and the titles are in a hand-scrawled font. I suspect that the decline of the horror genre is connected to an appetite for these altogether more real stories. It is ostensibly about the traumas and abuses suffered by a young Nigerian girl caught up in the skin trade. Nor should it be. Abani is a thoughtful author who, through the style of his writing, is at pains to avoid further exploitation of the topic through prurient entertainment.