A review of
by Chris Abani
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.
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—Ruth Davis Konigsberg