Becoming Abigail [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Compelling and gorgeously written, this is a coming-of-age novella like no other. Chris Abani explores the depths of loss and exploitation with what can only be described as a knowing tenderness. An extraordinary, necessary book."—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban

"Abani's voice brings perspective to every moment, turning pain into a beautiful painterly meditation on loss and aloneness."—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

“Abani's empathy for ...

See more details below
Becoming Abigail

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 12%)$11.95 List Price

Overview

"Compelling and gorgeously written, this is a coming-of-age novella like no other. Chris Abani explores the depths of loss and exploitation with what can only be described as a knowing tenderness. An extraordinary, necessary book."—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban

"Abani's voice brings perspective to every moment, turning pain into a beautiful painterly meditation on loss and aloneness."—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

“Abani's empathy for Abigail's torn life is matched only by his honesty in portraying it. Nothing at all is held back. A harrowing piece of work.”—Peter Orner, author of The Esther Stories

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 inner light that will enlighten and uplift the reader.

Chris Abani is a poet and novelist and the author, most recently, of GraceLand, which won the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize, a Silver Medal in the California Book Awards, and was a finalist for several other prizes including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His other prizes include a PEN Freedom-to-Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Sam Lipsyte
While the books share some elements - a long-dead mother, a father who bathes his hurt in alcohol and jazz - Becoming Abigail is more compressed and interior, a poetic treatment of terror and loneliness. It may lack the earlier novel's scope (and, perhaps, hope), but its isolating strategy, its sharp focus on the devastation of one young woman, has a deeper kind of resonance.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Abani follows up GraceLand, his PEN/Faulkner Award-winning boy's coming-of-age novel, with a searing girl's coming-of-age novella in which a troubled Nigerian teen is threatened with becoming human trade. Abigail's mother died giving birth to her, leaving her, as she grows, with a crippling guilt that drives her to bizarre childhood mourning rituals and, later, with the responsibility of caring for her chronically depressed father. Repeated sexual violations by male relatives and the self-imposed expectation that she live up to her idealized image of her mother create unbearable pain and contradiction. When, at the halfway point of the book, Abigail's father sends her, at age 15 , to live with her cousin-by-marriage, Peter, in London, it's as much to free her from him as to give her more opportunities. But once she arrives, her "cousin" proves malevolent, and her dehumanization begins. Recalling Lucas Moodyson's crushing Lilya4Ever, this portrait of a brutalized girl given no control over her life or body, features Abani's lyrical prose (Abigail's father's armchair "smelled of the dreams of everyone who had sat in it") and deft moves between short chapters titled "Then" and "Now"-with the latter offering little promise. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this novella, Abani (Graceland) offers a lyrical yet devastating account of a young woman's relocation to London from Nigeria under terrifically harsh circumstances. Shifting from the present to the not-so-distant past, the narrative explains how Abigail's life has been marked by tragedy ever since her mother died during childbirth. The absence of a mother eventually leads Abigail to a pattern of disturbing behavior, not the least of which includes self-mutilation with a knife. Her exasperated father decides to send her to London to live with her cousin Mary and Mary's husband, Peter. Unknown to Abigail's father, Peter had once molested Abigail, an act that proves minor compared with the other horrors she will encounter in this strange new country with so many white people. Abani's abundant talent is clearly evident throughout, as is his willingness to be brutally honest without being grotesque. Perhaps because of the book's brevity, Abani also refrains from polemics and focuses solely on the artistic presentation of a young, tragic life, leaving interpretation to the reader. Recommended for most general fiction collections.-Kevin Greczek, Ewing, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936070206
  • Publisher: Akashic Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 120
  • File size: 271 KB

Meet the Author

Chris Abani, curator of Akashic's Black Goat poetry imprint, is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of Song for Night, The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail, and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club; winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award).
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Becoming Abigail

a novella
By Chris Abani

Akashic Books

Copyright © 2006 Chris Abani
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-888451-94-7


Chapter One

And this.

Even this. This memory like all the others was a lie. Like the sound of someone ascending wooden stairs, which she couldn't know because she had never heard it. Still it was as real as this one. A coffin sinking reluctantly into the open mouth of a grave, earth in clods collected around it in a pile like froth from the mouth of a mad dog. And women. Gathered in a cluster of black, like angry crows. Weeping. The sound was something she had heard only in her dreams and in these moments of memory-a keening, loud and sharp, but not brittle like the screeching of glass or the imagined sound of women crying. This was something entirely different. A deep lowing, a presence, dark and palpable, like a shadow emanating from the women, becoming a thing that circled the grave and the mourners in a predatory manner before rising up to the brightness of the sky and the sun, to be replaced by another momentarily.

Always in this memory she stood next to her father, a tall whip of blackness like an undecided but upright cobra. And he held her hand in his, another lie. He was silent, but tears ran down his face. It wasn't the tears that bothered her. It was the way his body shuddered every few moments. Not a sob, itwas more like his body was struggling to remember how to breathe, fighting the knowledge that most of him was riding in that coffin sinking into the soft dark loam.

But how could she be sure she remembered this correctly? He was her father and the coffin held all that was left of her mother, Abigail. This much she was sure of. However, judging by the way everyone spoke of Abigail, there was nothing of her in that dark iroko casket. But how do you remember an event you were not there for? Abigail had died in childbirth and she, Abigail, this Abigail, the daughter not the dead one, the mother, was a baby sleeping in the crook of some aunt's arm completely unaware of the world.

She looked up. Her father stood in the doorway to the kitchen and the expression she saw on his face wasn't a lie.

"Dad," she said.

He stood in the doorframe. Light, from the outside security lights and wet from the rain, blew in. He swallowed and collected himself. She was doing the dishes buried up to her elbows in suds.

"Uh, carry on," he said. Turning abruptly, he left.

The first time she saw that expression she'd been eight. He had been drinking, which he did sometimes when he was sad. Although that word, sad, seemed inadequate. And this sadness was the memory of Abigail overwhelming him. When he felt it rise, he would drink and play jazz.

It was late and she should have been in bed. Asleep. But the loud music woke her and drew her out into the living room. It was bright, the light sterile almost, the same florescent lighting used in hospitals. The furnishing was sparse. One armchair with wide wooden arms and leather seats and backrest, the leather fading and worn bald in some spots. A couple of beanbags scattered around a fraying rug, and a room divider sloping on one side; broken. Beyond the divider was the dining room. But here, in the living room, under the window that looked out onto a hill and the savanna sloping down it, stood the record player and the stack of records. Her father was in the middle of the room swaying along to "The Girl from Ipanema," clutching a photograph of Abigail to his chest. She walked in and took the photo- graph from his hands.

"Abigail," he said. Over and over.

"It's all right, Dad, it's just the beer."

"I'm not drunk."

"Then it's the jazz. You know it's not good for you."

But she knew this thing wasn't the jazz, at least not the way he had told her about it on other countless drunken nights. That jazz, she imagined, was something you find down a dark alley taken as a shortcut, and brushing rain from your hair in the dimness of the club found there, you hear the singer crying just for you, while behind her a horn collects all the things she forgot to say, the brushes sweeping it all up against the skin of the drum. This thing with her father, however, was something else, Abigail suspected, something dead and rotting.

"Shhh, go to bed, Dad," she said.

He turned and looked at her and she saw it and recognized what it was. She looked so much like her mother that when he saw her suddenly, she knew he wanted her to be Abigail. Now she realized that there was also something else: a patience, a longing. The way she imagined a devoted bonsai grower stood over a tree.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani Copyright © 2006 by Chris Abani. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    great read

    this book was agreat read- very intense, Chris abani had come to my school and read from this book and from then ive become an avid reader of his books. its great!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2006

    Short but Powerful

    This novella provides proof that sometimes life just deals you a rotten hand. The heartbreaking story of Abigail is a metaphor for the cruelity of humanity at its absolute worse and how a tender, caring moment can change everything. A story like this reminds you of just how good you have it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2006

    Powerful book

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, with its intriguing plot revealed through alternating 'then' and 'now' chapters. It is a fascinating look into the mind of a young girl who believes that her destruction will bring her healing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)