Oil on Water: A Novel

By Helon Habila

“The new iteration of twenty-first-century African writers have now come of age. surely Habila is likely one of the best.”—Emmanuel Dongala

within the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta, the spouse of a British oil government has been abducted. journalists—a younger upstart, Rufus, and a once-great, now upset veteran, Zaq—are despatched to discover her. In a narrative wealthy with surroundings and taut with suspense, Oil on Water explores the clash among idealism and cynical disillusionment in a trip choked with threat and unintentional consequences.

As Rufus and Zaq navigate polluted rivers flanked by way of exploded and dormant oil wells, looking for “the white woman,” they need to deal with the brutality of either executive squaddies and militants. Assailed by means of irresolvable types of the “truth” in regards to the woman’s disappearance, depending on the kindness of strangers of unknowable loyalties, their journalistic objectivity will turn out unsustainable, yet different values may perhaps but salvage their human dignity.

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So, why aren’t you a worshipper? My voice used to be low in order that in basic terms she may possibly pay attention me. yet i used to be uncertain she had heard me, simply because her head was once nonetheless bent over her plate. I cleared my voice to copy myself, yet she seemed up and smiled. – good, I’m rather new the following. The shrine employed me to paintings as a nurse. i actually haven’t notion a lot in regards to the non secular element of items. I driven my plate apart. The yam with fish stew was once strangely tasty. The others had entire consuming too and have been nonetheless chatting with Naman. – How lengthy have you ever been right here? – months this journey, yet I come and pass. – and also you remain right here on the shrine? – i've got a spot within the village. i take advantage of it every time I’m right here. i wished to carry the dialog around to the abduction and the militants, yet I didn’t are looking to sound impolite or pushy. – Are you content right here? Do you are feeling secure? She checked out me, her expression solemn, considerate. – every little thing is smart right here. – I see. Will you return to work out Zaq? He was once in soreness while I left him. i used to be reluctant to depart her. to this point she were keen to respond to my questions, and maybe if i'll take her to the hut she’d be prepared to reply to much more direct ones. She used to be now not a worshipper, and he or she have been at the island lengthy sufficient to understand what was once occurring, which made her an excellent resource. and that i came across her very beautiful. – definite, after all. I’ll see how he’s doing sooner than he turns in. We came upon Zaq seated on his mat, dealing with a fireplace in a brazier that have been put close to his ft. His again used to be propped opposed to the wall and his face didn’t swap expression whilst he observed me input with Gloria. He seemed misplaced in suggestion. – The nurse is the following to work out you. It took him a couple of minutes to seem up, sighing seriously as he did so. The flames danced within the mild and shadows on his face, merging with and accentuating the hollows and contours on it. His eyes have been glossy, and that i knew that he have been at what used to be left of the bottle. whilst the nurse knelt earlier than him and took his wrist in her hand, she spotted it too. She additionally observed the bottle of whisky close to his pillow. She reached ahead and took it. – You’ve been ingesting. Your pulse is especially vulnerable, I can’t let you drink. and she or he flung the bottle on the open doorway, into the darkish. To my shock Zaq didn't protest. He checked out her with a set gaze. – Ah, nurse. You glance nice this day. – and also you glance inebriated at the present time, Mr Zaq. – Rufus, isn’t she very lovely? The sternness went out of her face, and for a second she seemed doubtful – her hand went as much as modify her shawl – after which she grew to become critical back. I went out and sat on a tree trunk by means of the hut door. From there i may see the sculpture backyard: the frozen neighborhood looking at the evening, heading off evil, ears cocked for the night’s watchword, no matter what that may be. She got here out and stood quietly beside me. i needed to speak to her, yet there has been a stillness approximately her that I didn’t are looking to shatter. finally she grew to become and checked out me. – It’s so peaceable the following, isn’t it? She sat down at the log beside me, and that i felt the again of her hand brush opposed to mine in brief.

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