Advertisement

City of Stories: The Lagos Imaginary in Chris Abani’s GraceLand (2004) and Sefi Atta’s Swallow (2010)

  • Maximilian Feldner
Chapter
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)

Abstract

Depictions of the megacity of Lagos form a central part of the Nigerian imaginary. As an increasing body of fictional literature deals with contemporary Nigerian urbanity, a coherent literary image of the city begins to emerge. This chapter outlines common elements of the Lagos narrative as they can be found in two prototypical Lagos novels, Chris Abani’s GraceLand (2004) and Sefi Atta’s Swallow (2010). These novels, set in Lagos in 1983 and 1985, respectively, capture the city’s traffic situation, the overwhelming assault on the senses, and the characters’ strategies of survival as they are faced with the impossibility of living there.

Bibliography

  1. Abani, Chris. 2004. GraceLand. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  2. Achebe, Chinua. 1988. No Longer at Ease [1960]. Oxford: Heinemann International Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1994. Things Fall Apart [1958]. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  4. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. 2003. Purple Hibiscus. New York: Anchor.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2014. Americanah [2013]. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  6. Atta, Sefi. 2008. Everything Good Will Come [2005]. Northampton: Interlink Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2010. Swallow. Northampton: Interlink Books.Google Scholar
  8. Barrett, A. Igoni. 2013. Love Is Power, or Something Like That. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2016. Blackass [2015]. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cole, Teju. 2014. Every Day Is for the Thief [2007]. London: Faber & Faber Ltd.Google Scholar
  11. Dawson, Ashley. 2009. Surplus City. Interventions 11 (1): 16–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De La Cruz-Guzmán, Marlene. 2015. Of Motherhood, Marriage, and Professionals. In Writing Contemporary Nigeria. How Sefi Atta Illuminates African Culture and Tradition, ed. Walter Collins, 3–40. Amherst: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dunton, Chris. 2008. Entropy and Energy: Lagos as City of Words. Research in African Literatures 39 (2): 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ekwensi, Cyprian. 1961. Jagua Nana. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1978. People of the City [1954]. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  16. Emecheta, Buchi. 1995. The Joys of Motherhood [1979]. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  17. Evans, Diana. 2006. 26a [2005]. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  18. Eze, Chielozona. 2005. Cosmopolitan Solidarity: Negotiating Transculturality in Contemporary Nigerian Novels. English in Africa 32 (1): 99–112.Google Scholar
  19. Falola, Toyin, and Bukola Adeyemi Oyeniyi. 2015. Nigeria. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  20. Griswold, Wendy. 2000. Bearing Witness. Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Habila, Helon. 2004. Waiting for an Angel [2002]. New York/London: Norton.Google Scholar
  22. Harrison, Sarah K. 2012. “Suspended City”: Personal, Urban, and National Development in Chris Abani’s Graceland. Research in African Literatures 43 (2): 95–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Imam, Ayesha M. 1997. The Dynamics of WINning: An Analysis of Women in Nigeria (WIN). In Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures, ed. Jacqui M. Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Krishnan, Madhu. 2011. Beyond Tradition and Progress: Re-imagining Nigeria in Chris Abani’s GraceLand. Anglistica 15 (1): 97–106.Google Scholar
  25. Mason, Lauren. 2014. Leaving Lagos: Intertextuality and Images in Chris Abani’s GraceLand. Research in African Literatures 45 (3): 206–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nnodim, Rita. 2008. City, Identity and Dystopia: Writing Lagos in Contemporary Nigerian Novels. Journal of Postcolonial Writing 44 (4): 321–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. ———. 2015. Female Alter-Native Publics, ImagiNations, and Cityness in Sefi Atta’s Lagos Novels. In Writing Contemporary Nigeria. How Sefi Atta Illuminates African Culture and Tradition, ed. Walter Collins, 97–120. Amherst: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  28. Nugent, Paul. 2004. Africa Since Independence. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nwaubani, Adaobi Tricia. 2009. I Do Not Come to You by Chance. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  30. Nwosu, Maik. 2001. Invisible Chapters [1999]. Lagos: House of Malaika & Hybun.Google Scholar
  31. Obioma, Chigozie. 2015. The Fishermen. New York: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  32. Oguine, Ike. 2000. A Squatter’s Tale. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  33. Olaoye, Elisabeth. 2015. The Influence of Lagos on Women in Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come. In Writing Contemporary Nigeria. How Sefi Atta Illuminates African Culture and Tradition, ed. Walter Collins, 135–153. Amherst: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  34. Omelsky, Matthew. 2011. Chris Abani and the Politics of Ambivalence. Research in African Literatures 42 (4): 84–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Omotoso, Yewande. 2011. Bom Boy. Athlone: Modjaji Books.Google Scholar
  36. Oniwe, Bernard. 2015. Images and Voices of Lagos in Sefi Atta’s Novels. In Writing Contemporary Nigeria. How Sefi Atta Illuminates African Culture and Tradition, ed. Walter Collins, 121–134. Amherst: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  37. Onuzo, Chibundu. 2017. Welcome to Lagos. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  38. Oyeyemi, Helen. 2005. The Icarus Girl. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  39. Patterson-Stein, Jacob. 2009. De-nationalizing American Music in the “Third Space” of GraceLand. eSharp 13: 48–68.Google Scholar
  40. Sackeyfio, Rose. 2015. Recasting Sisterhood and Its Ambiguities. In Writing Contemporary Nigeria. How Sefi Atta Illuminates African Culture and Tradition, ed. Walter Collins, 41–58. Amherst: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  41. Schwetman, John D. 2014. Leaving Lagos. Diasporic and Cosmopolitan Migrations in Chris Abani’s GraceLand. Pacific Coast Philology 49 (2): 184–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sereda, Stefan. 2008. Riffing on Resistance: Music in Chris Abani’s Graceland. Ariel 39 (4): 31–47.Google Scholar
  43. Thomas, Dominic. 2009. New Voices, Emerging Themes. In The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel, ed. Abiola Irele, 227–242. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Unigwe, Chika. 2010. On Black Sisters Street [2009]. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  45. ———. 2012. Night Dancer. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maximilian Feldner
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GrazGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations