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Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria in 1976 and raised in England. She attended King's College London and Columbia University in New York and has written travel guides for Rough Guide and Lonely Planet. She currently lives in London.
In this combination travel narrative and personal memoir, Noo, who was raised in England, seeks to explore and understand the country where she was born as well as her father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a respected Nigerian writer, television producer, and environmental activist who was executed on false charges by the Abacha military regime in 1995. Many of her observations are bleakly comical: the "Transwonderland" of the title, an amusement park touted in a travel guide, turns out to be a few rusting carnival rides surrounded by unmowed grass and perplexed children who can't afford to ride them. Others are tragic: unreliable public infrastructure, the decay of historic sites, and the theft of artworks. Most damaging of all is the absence of the social contract whereby work is honestly done and honestly rewarded. Employers delay payment of wages for months; public servants seek bribes; government funds are repeatedly squandered or embezzled. In a passage that is all the more stirring for its emotional restraint, Saro-Wiwa describes how she and her family received the skeletal remains of her father in 2005. She has come to love some things about Nigeria-its natural beauty, its fascinating indigenous heritages, its music and dancing-but finds that her native land "couldn't seduce me fully when all roads snaked back to corruption, the rottenness my father fought against and the cause he died for." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.