FICTION

Welcome to Lagos

Catapult. May 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781936787807. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781936787814. F
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Nigeria's corrupt government, as witnessed by a disparate band of misfits hoping to disappear in the teeming capital city of Lagos, is the subject of this provocative novel. Soldiers Chike and Yemi are AWOL from an unjust conflict in the Niger delta, Oma has left an abusive husband, and Isoken seeks safety after a sexual assault. Then there's Fineboy, a street-smart troublemaker who dreams of becoming a radio announcer. They form a de facto family, with Chike as its conscience. But when their path crosses that of disgraced Minister of Education Remi Sandayo, a well-intentioned scheme to redistribute stolen wealth culminates in tragedy. Each chapter is prefaced by ironic excerpts from the "Nigerian Journal," the brainchild of Ahmed Bakare, educated in London but returned to Lagos to print unvarnished truth for the people.
VERDICT Winner of the Betty Trask Award for her debut, The Spider King's Daughter, published when she was just 21, Onuzo writes biting social commentary with heart. Though set in Lagos, the work's themes of unscrupulous politicians, irresponsible news outlets, and the unbridgeable divide between privileged and poor are universal and should appeal to a wide audience. [For an essay on libraries by the author, see ow.ly/aF7l30jEXBk.—Ed.]
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