419

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A startlingly original tale of heartbreak and suspense

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On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the ...

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Overview

A startlingly original tale of heartbreak and suspense

A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide?

On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.

Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: "Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help…"

419 takes readers behind the scene of the world's most insidious internet scam. When Laura's father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father's killer. What she finds there will change her life forever…

From the internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human suffering. It's a story of love in a time of darkness, of one woman's search for redemption, and of a young boy who will triumph above it all.

Winner of the 2012 Giller Prize

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/26/2013
Ferguson's African epic, which won Canada's Scotiabank Giller prize in 2012, details the linked lives of four individuals, three African and one Canadian, drawn together by Nigeria's bloody, exploited history. Laura seeks justice for her murdered father; amoral Winston chases wealth at any cost; Nnamdi and Amina seek only honest employment and a chance to raise Amina's child. Greed contends with generosity and vengeance with forgiveness in a world where the bad prosper and acts of charity are harshly punished. Despite the terrible events of the book, the author leaves room for hope of a better tomorrow. White North Americans grappling with the ‘matter of Africa' is an often fraught affair, bright white teeth contrasted with chocolate skin, where tides of causeless violence wash across the hopeless continent and exoticized, sexualized natives exist solely to provide a supporting cast for white protagonists. Ferguson avoids many of the pitfalls of this genre; every terrible action has a motivation, Nigeria's present calamities have a historical and international context. Most importantly, Winston, Nnamdi and Amina do not exist merely to cast an edifying light on Laura, but, as she belatedly comes to appreciate, have inner lives, goals and ambitions of their own. Ferguson provides a template for novels about Africa other Western authors would do well to contemplate. Agent: Grainne Fox, Fletcher & Company. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“419 is more than a drugstore-rack police procedural: It’s a deeply ironic, thoroughly engaged politico-philosophical thriller from a comic writer best known for winning a trio of Leacock Awards…. you won’t sleep until you finish, and then rest won’t come easily. Riveting. Provocative.” - The Globe and Mail

“A sweeping story with complex twists and turns that spans continents, breaks hearts and ruins lives.” - The Chronicle-Herald (Halifax)

“The story [Ferguson] weaves is heart-wrenching, fascinating, and scary. A thriller with a raw nerve ending…. Ferguson … dazzles us in 419 with an intricately woven, urgent story. It is an unflinching, ambitious work, flinging us back and forth across the Atlantic, and taking us into danger…. It is a persuasive work of fiction based on a very original premise. Ferguson who swings so deftly from humor to thriller is a writer who can genuinely surprise.” - Toronto Star

“Ferguson’s revenge novel will appeal to everyone…. A sprawling but beautiful third novel. It is a mixture of intrigue, storytelling, parenthood, sorrow, vengeance and fun. It reads a little bit like a Ludlum spy saga, a little bit like a Dickens character novel, a little bit like an Oscar-seeking movie…. [Ferguson] designed [419] as a page-turner. He succeeds fully.” - Winnipeg Free Press

“This book shimmers. Tautly paced and vividly drawn, 419 captures the reader in a net of desire and deceit drawn tight by the interconnections of humanity in the twenty-first century.” - Vincent Lam, Giller Prize-winning author of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

“419 is an ambitious, fast-paced global thriller which I found impossible to put down.” - Camilla Gibb, author of Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement

“Will Ferguson’s 419 unveils the brilliant layers of a Nigerian cyberspace sting that brings devastation to an entire family. Ferguson’s characters live by their wits, employing techno-wizardry and the cold ingenuity of the old-fashioned con. Intrigue, coercion, shame, and torqued suspense unfold with harrowing speed and the illuminating elegance of a cyber click.” - Lisa Moore, author of Alligator and February

“Though there is a touch of humour in its pages, 419 is much more of a showcase for Ferguson’s travel-writing talents…. A truly enjoyable book…. Ferguson is a keen observer of landscapes and cityscapes, and has a brilliant ear for dialogue and accent…. you will never see those creative 419 emails in your inbox in quite the same way.” - The Gazette (Montreal)

“A powerful read…. Ferguson is a heavy-weight now.” - NOW Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670064717
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Travel writer and novelist Will Ferguson is the author of several award-winning memoirs, including Beyond Belfast, about a 560-mile walk across Northern Ireland in the rain; Hitching Rides With Buddha, about an end-to-end journey across Japan by thumb; and most recently the humour collection Canadian Pie, which includes his travels from Yukon to PEI.

Ferguson's novels include Happiness™, a satire set in the world of self-help publishing, and Spanish Fly, a coming-of-age tale of con men and call girls set amid the jazz clubs of the Great Depression. His work, which has been published in more than twenty languages around the world, has been nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and he is a three-time winner of the Leacock Medal.

www.willferguson.com

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Not One to Read

    Don't waste your time! Hard to follow and poorly written, stay away x 10!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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