Oil on Water
By Helon Habila
(W. W. Norton & Company, Paperback, 9780393339642, 239pp.)
Publication Date: May 2011
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the June 2011 Indie Next List
“In this beautiful, truth-seeking novel, journalists Rufus and Zaq make their way through the fetid, oil-choked waters of the Nigerian Delta in search of the kidnapped wife of an oil executive. Rufus, young and eager to prove himself, is thrilled at the prospect of a big story and to be working with his hero, Zaq. But their journey into the dense wilderness takes on a much different form than either expected, and they are thrust into events beyond their control. Oil on Water is a suspenseful story about globalization, ambition, and the unwieldy nature of truth.”
-- Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
In the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta, the wife of a British oil executive has been kidnapped. Two journalists a young upstart, Rufus, and a once-great, now disillusioned veteran, Zaq are sent to find her. In a story rich with atmosphere and taut with suspense, Oil on Water explores the conflict between idealism and cynical disillusionment in a journey full of danger and unintended consequences. As Rufus and Zaq navigate polluted rivers flanked by exploded and dormant oil wells, in search of the white woman, they must contend with the brutality of both government soldiers and militants. Assailed by irresolvable versions of the truth about the woman s disappearance, dependent on the kindness of strangers of unknowable loyalties, their journalistic objectivity will prove unsustainable, but other values might yet salvage their human dignity."