Penguin £8.99 (216pp) £8.54 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Oil On Water, By Helon Habila
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014.
Friday 30 September 2011
Rufus is a keen cub reporter cutting his teeth at a newspaper in Port Harcourt, when he is sent on an assignment to find and interview the kidnapped wife of a British oil engineer.
His endeavour becomes that of an everyman detective on a life-threatening journey into the oil rich region of the Niger Delta, a chaotic wilderness in which militants and kidnappers reign.
He witnesses the cycles of greed, injustice and rage that fuel the factional fighting and wincing brutality, and notes with a quiet heroism:"I couldn't turn my face away for long... My job was to observe."
Habila, a prize-winning author, offers a vivid, unsettling story that has the pace and mystery of a detective drama, and the panoramic breadth of a state of the nation novel.
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