Book Review: Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

Publisher:  Faber & Faber

Publication date:  5th January 2017

welcome-to-lagos-my-review

Lagos is no different from anywhere, except there are more people, and more noise, and more. But when they are done marvelling at the sameness of it all, one type continues on his way and the others remembers that he has nowhere to go.

welcome-to-lagosThe intensity of the human spirit roams free throughout these pages as the lowly wrestle the mighty in Welcome to Lagos.

How this diverse city can generate such wildly contrasting ways of existence is undoubtedly outrageous: power, wealth, the highly questionable morals VS squalor, resilience, and a yearning to forge a better path. 

Regardless of where you are in the food chain there appears to be an impossible level of ambition to achieve, which continually falls under scrutiny by your peers and even yourself.

A handful of individuals are plucked from the bustling hive of the population to play a part in this fascinating story. As they travel to Lagos for their own reasons their unique journeys merge until they grasp a way of living, however vital or crude, relying on each other’s strengths to help them endure events along the way.

Through the primitiveness of their situations and by embracing a stilted camaraderie, the layers of these assorted life escapees are gradually peeled away to reveal characters as remarkable and bright as any star in the sky. Yet these unlikely political renegades don’t want to light the entire world, preferring to keep their heads down and silently hold a candle in the dark to comfort others.

When their paths cross unexpectedly with that of an unwilling benefactor, the tale develops an unconventional Robin Hood touch (a political thief and his band of not so merry men and women…) and none of them could have imagined the affect their anonymous intervention could have and the attention it would attract. But in this territory victories are often short-lived and sacrifice is inevitable.

Despite one’s best efforts, despite one’s highest hopes, the world did not change.

Welcome to Lagos is a curious and eye-opening read told with a pureness and honesty that perfectly expresses heartbreak, hope, and most of all an admirable perseverance when all seems lost. The brusque dialogue in regional dialect is mesmerising, as were passages so breathtakingly abrupt I have nothing but the utmost respect for how astonishingly effective they were. 

Rating:  4/5

(I ‘wished’ for a copy of this title on NetGalley and the publisher kindly made it come true! Huge thanks to them as I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to read this book, and to provide this unbiased review.)

welcome-to-lagos-book

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

When army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows that it is time to leave. As he travels towards Lagos, he becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a better life.

Their arrival in the city coincides with the eruption of a political scandal. The education minister, Chief Sandayo, has disappeared and is suspected of stealing millions of dollars from government funds.

After an unexpected encounter with the Chief, Chike and his companions must make a choice. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is desperate for information. But perhaps the situation is more complex than it appears.

As moving as it is mesmerising, Welcome to Lagos is a novel about the power of our dreams for the future and the place of morality in a sometimes hostile world.

BUY THE BOOK

welcome-to-lagos-author-profile

(Courtesy of Publisher’s website)

Chibundu Onuzo was born in Nigeria in 1991 and is the youngest of four children. She is currently studying History at Kings College, London. When not writing, Chibundu can be found playing the piano or singing.

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