Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

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by Noo Saro-Wiwa
     
 

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Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria — a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Recently,

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Overview

Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria — a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father given his life for.

Saro-Wiwa travels from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the decrepit kitsch of the Transwonderland Amusement Park. She explores Nigerian Christianity, delves into the country’s history of slavery, examines the corrupting effect of oil, and ponders the huge success of Nollywood.

She finds the country as exasperating as ever, and frequently despairs at the corruption and inefficiency she encounters. But she also discovers that it si far more beautiful and varied than she had ever imagined, with its captivating thick tropical rainforest and ancient palaces and monuments. Most engagingly of all, she introduces us to the many people she meets, and gives us hilarious insights into the African character, its passion, wit and ingenuity.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…the remarkable chronicle of a journey home from exile.
—Joshua Hammer
From the Publisher

Praise for Looking for Transwonderland

"The remarkable chronicle of a journey home from exile." —The New York Times Book Review

"The daughter of slain Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa revisits her homeland as an adult in this absorbing tour of that complex African country…As she tours the country and gets to know people from its many ethnic groups, she gains a better understanding of and appreciation for Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa is a sharp and insightful guide, giving readers an intimate look at the varied regions that comprise this fascinating country." —Booklist (Starred)

"The author allows her love-hate relationship with Nigeria to flavor this thoughtful travel journal, lending it irony, wit and frankness."—Kirkus

Library Journal
Experience the chaos of Nigeria through the eyes of Saro-Wiwa, the daughter of the famed activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed by the Nigerian government. Saro-Wiwa grew up in England, though she returned every summer to Nigeria, a place she loathed because it took her away from her comfortable lifestyle. As an adult, Saro-Wiwa found herself wondering about her homeland, the country for which her father gave his life, and decided to return. Enlivened by charismatic characters, bus ride infomercials, abandoned amusement parks, corruption, and gorgeous rain forests, Saro-Wiwa's memoir is as much a tale of frustration as it is a journey of discovery. VERDICT This engaging, fast-paced jaunt through more than a dozen regions of Nigeria is full of adventure and honesty. Saro-Wiwa writes beautifully of her homeland and family, opening this world up for outsiders. Recommended for those who love experiencing new countries in the pages of a book, fans of memoir, and anyone interested in contemporary Nigeria.—Katie Lawrence, Chicago
Kirkus Reviews
A Nigerian-born English journalist makes peace with the land that killed her father. Ken Saro-Wiwa was a Nigerian nonviolent political activist campaigning against government corruption and environmental degradation when he was falsely accused by the military regime and executed in 1995. His daughter Noo, a twin to her sister, Zina, born in 1976 and educated in England and the United States, maintained a mostly antagonistic relationship toward the land of her Ogoni parents, who sent the children on summer holidays back to the family compound where the heat, disorder, lack of running water and electricity consumed the author with dread. Now a young woman self-admittedly spoiled by the amenities of English life, the author allows her love-hate relationship with Nigeria to flavor this thoughtful travel journal, lending it irony, wit and frankness, yet also an undertone of bitterness. Starting in Lagos, staying at the home of her mother's friend, she was overwhelmed by the noise and tumult of the city, teeming with 300-odd ethnic groups that were miraculously not worn down by quotidian inconveniences such as five-hour commutes, poorly paid jobs ($2 at most per day) and a constant need for haggling and hustling to make ends meet. Indeed, a Pentecostal faith inspired many Nigerians, rendering them by one account the happiest people in the world. From Lagos, "feral and impenetrable," Saro-Wiwa trekked through Nigerian land and history, to the university town of Ibadan, the modern urban metropolis of Abuja, Kano and the Islamic northern recesses, national parks and nature preserves, civic-minded Calabar and formerly glorious Benin, before facing the "tense oil-city" and difficult childhood memories of Port Harcourt. A vigorous, scathing look at Nigeria then and now.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619020078
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
08/21/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
728,789
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.84(h) x 0.89(d)

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