In the article, Surplus City, by Ashley Dawson,  the scholar says, “Albani wastes no time in alerting his readers to the immense pressures experienced by those trying to eke out an existence in slums such as Maroko.” The ghettoes in Lagos as described in Chris Abani’s Graceland is not only an indictment of the political corrupption that creates these islands of despair but the novel is also a testament to the human spirit’s determination to survive under the most deplorable living conditions.  Every chracter has his or her own means of coping with the stench of despair that surrounds them.  Sunday copes with his failure to be employed by going to Madame Caro’s bar on a daily basis to drink palm wine all day long.  Elvis survives at first by impersonating a white American icon who imitated the dance moves and singing styles of African Americans.  Later, through the help of his friend, Redemption, Elvis finds other and more lucrative means of employment like working at the club as a dancer with the female patrons.  Sunday’s wife, Comfort, has her own shop (though nobody knows exactly what she is making or selling)  it still is a means of survival.  The fact that these characters face their adversity either through drinking or finding some kind of hustle is a testament to human beings willingness to endure just about anything to survive.  Life in Maroko is as far from paradise as you can get yet not far away  from the elite who live in luxurious surroundings.  Even the King of the beggars survives because his one goal in life is to find the man who executed his family.  Hatred of the political system that he lives under gives him the courage to face another day.  His speeches which attacks the government is his way of attracting the military which he hopes will reveal the homocidal Colonel to him.  The fact that he is willing to beg to survive and on the other hand willing to die to get his revenge says a great deal about the motivations of human beings to survive and the disguises they will wear in order to accomplish their goals.  The names of the characters in the novel reveal not only the mindset of the people they represent but also the hope for a better future, take the name Redemption which he represents in the hell that ghettoes like Maroko and Bridge City represent.  Redemption makes Elvis”s life more bearable and it’s through Redemption that Elvis is able to escape the ghetto called Bridge City to join his aunt in America.


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