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Oil on Water


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About the Author

Helon Habila was born in Nigeria in 1967. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing 2001 for the opening section of his first book, Waiting for an Angel, which then went on to win the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book, Africa Region, in 2003. His second book was called Measuring Time. He now divides his time between America and Nigeria.


Commonwealth Prize Winner (2003 for Waiting for an Angel) Habila's latest work is a 2011 Commonwealth Prize nominee. Here, Rufus, a novice journalist, and Zaq, a grizzled, dying, veteran reporter, are tracking a British oil engineer's wife, supposedly kidnapped by rebels holding her for ransom. Set in the Nigerian Delta, an area ravaged by the oil industry, the story lands the news-hounds in danger from both the soldiers and the rebels. Seeking the truth turns out to be more nebulous than Rufus thinks, and the quest for justice is elusive. The narration from multiple Audie Award-nominated Richard Allen has an almost lyrical quality, immersing readers in the tale. One annoyance: the CDs are tracked by chapters, with some chapters lasting almost an hour. Suitable for fans of Aminatta Forna or listeners interested in the region. ["The accessible writing style and the focus on personal stories will appeal to a wide range of American readers, including those new to African fiction," read the review of the Norton pb, LJ 4/15/11.-Ed.]-Donna Bachowski, Orange Cty. Lib. Syst., Orlando, FL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Compassionate, emotive, masterly . . . draws on the tradition of the classic detective novel but also operates on a deeper, metaphorical and philosophical level * Independent *
A lean, evocative novel - part thriller, part meditation on the deadly cost of the region's under-reported oil politics . . . a classic coming-of-age narrative * Daily Mail *
Powerful, accomplished . . . Oil on Water lays bare the real-life tragedy of the Niger delta, in which petrodollars warp human relationships as surely as leaking crude poisons birds and fish * Observer *
Habila's writing has that combination of elegance and rattling-good-yarn that we associate with Conrad and Graham Greene . . . Terrific * The Times *
Habila is a master at evoking the plight of characters who ask for little, and end up with even less . . . this is a book you can't put down * Boston Globe *
In a beautiful, almost cinematic style, Habila moves back and forth in time to tell a story swathed in the cynicism of modern global development and the mysteries of human longing * Booklist *
This is a powerful novel that is both creepy and engaging * Bookseller *

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