Oil on Water


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Helon Habila’s third novel explores militancy and petrol-politics in Nigeria’s Niger Delta—International cause célèbre following the 1995 extra-judicial killing of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Told in Habila’s award-winning prose, Oil on Water follows two journalists, the younger Rufus and the more experienced Zaq, in a descent through the creeks of the delta to unravel the story of the kidnapped expatriate wife of an oil company executive. . .

“As they struggle up the river in a canoe, guided by an old man and a young boy, the reporters encounter nightmarish scenes of devastation: ‘dead birds draped over tree branches, their outstretched wings black and slick with oil; dead fishes bobbed white-bellied between tree roots’. By the flickering light of oil flare, they find some villages abandoned, their fields and water contaminate; others scrape a miserable existence on the frontline of a civil war between the army and anti-government guerrillas.” – Guardian UK.

This is a novel about the limits of journalism; it is an incisive exploration of the death of truth in a country of varied corruptions addicted to oil. Oil on Water confirms Habila’s dazzling talent, evident in his earlier novels and reinforces his place as one of Nigeria’s most important writers.

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Weight 0.500 kg
Author Picture

Helon Habila

Helon Habila is a Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, Virginia. He was born in Nigeria where he worked as a journalist before moving to the US. He is the author of four novels: Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time, Oil on Water and Travellers. He edited The Granta Book of The African Short Story. His book of nonfiction, The Chibok Girls, focuses on the 276 school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in northeastern Nigeria in 2014. Habila is a regular contributor to the UK Guardian, and a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review. Habila’s work has won many awards including the Caine Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region), The Virginia Library Prize for Fiction , and the Windham-Campbell Prize, among many others.

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