Peripheral violence in GraceLand
in Chris Abani
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By focusing on Abani’s novel GraceLand (2004), this chapter investigates issues of socioeconomic and cultural violence in the postcolony. Maroko, the slum where the young protagonist Elvis Oke lives, is the site of percolating brutality, visible in the environmental degradation, the repetitive abuse of basic human rights, and the diffused illegal activities. Violence is so central an experience in the subaltern lives of the postcolony that it becomes unquestioned, apparently obliterating Elvis’s ability to react to it. Yet, as a would-be Presley, the young protagonist proves his resilience against the limitedness of his existence as a ‘disposable’ marginal inhabitant of the ‘global south’. His performance reads rather as an attempt of aesthetic and intellectual agency, resisting his extreme locality in the unbalanced crosspollination of a neocolonial and neo-capitalist world.


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