A review of

Becoming Abigail

by Chris Abani

Central question: Can one woman escape her history?
Format: 120 pp., paperback; Size: 5.25" x 8.25"; Price: $11.95; Publisher: Akashic Books; Editor: Johnny Temple; Print run: 10,000; Cover design: James Hill Design; Cover photo: Pierre Bonnard; Interior design: Johnny Temple; Typeface: Garamond; Poetry series imprint created by author: Black Goat; Woodwind instrument played by author: Saxophone; Author’s last novel: Graceland; According to novel, a lie always sounds better: “Told in English”; Representative sentence: “Maybe, she thought, maybe some of us are just here to feed others.”

Maybe I’ve read one too many stories about sex slaves in the New York Times magazine or Marie Claire, been to one too many benefit lunches for third-world female refugees held in inappropriately high-end hotel ballrooms. Such is the twisted power of the mainstream media to bring attention to human tragedy in such a titillating fashion and with such self-aggrandizing flourishes as to ultimately inure you to its pathos.

The real plight of young women who are shipped overseas to become sex slaves is much better served by Chris Abani’s novella Becoming Abigail. Abani tracks the journey of one Nigerian girl named Abigail toward such a fate. Abani, also a poet, favors the narrative locomotion of language and symbols over plot and characterization. Soil, countries, maps, and bodies are metaphors that appear repeatedly, as if the repetition itself is some sort of metaphor for Abigail’s inescapable plight.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Ruth Davis Konigsberg

Ruth Davis Konigsberg is a deputy editor at Glamour and founder of womentk.com.

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