Welcome to Lagos: A Novel Hardcover – May 1, 2018
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Selected to Best of Summer Reading Lists by Parade, Elle, NYLON, PopSugar, The Millions, PureWow, Women.com, Hearst Media, Bitch Media, and Read It Forward
“Storylines and twists abound. But action is secondary to atmosphere: Onuzo excels at evoking a stratified city, where society weddings feature ‘ice sculptures as cold as the unmarried belles’ and thugs write tidy receipts for kickbacks extorted from homeless travelers.” ―The New Yorker
"Welcome to Lagos, the American debut of Chibundu Onuzo . . . offers an earnest . . . portrait of Nigeria’s sprawling metropolis . . . [The book's] dialogue rings true. Conversations between Onuzo’s characters move fluidly between Igbo, Yoruba, pidgin and English, demonstrating her skilled ear." ―The New York Times Book Review
"Delightful." ―Gary Younge, The Guardian
"Lives as varied as they are storied find themselves together in Lagos. . . . It is a true testament to Onuzo’s natural storytelling skills that she orchestrates, with humor, panache and multilingualism, the meeting of all these characters." ―Star Tribune
"Onuzo's lively, well-plotted novel summons up the great city of Lagos with all its complexity." ―Houston Chronicle
"An adventure to somewhere I've never been." ―Jake Tapper, The Washington Post
“Chike Ameobi may be an army officer in Nigeria but he doesn’t take orders from just anyone. When he’s commanded to take innocent lives, he sets off to Lagos where he gets involved in the midst a new scandal with a new group of misfits, all destined to make a change.” ―Parade
"Heralds the young writer's great talent, her ability to weave together multiple story lines into one vibrant tapestry, and her gift at inhabiting myriad perspectives while maintaining the singularity of each individual voice." ―NYLON
“Get to know Lagos in this irresistible masterpiece by Chibundu Onuzo. Searching, or rather, escaping to a better life is the motivation behind the protagonist, Chike's, arrival to Lagos. But that doesn't mean that he can escape the political scandals around him." ―Hearst Media
“Onuzo spins a vivid and wild tale of crisscrossing lives and destinies in a city filled with injustice and opportunity, complexity and corruption.” ―Shondaland
"A funny, insightful celebration of contemporary Nigeria that masterfully answers Adichie’s call to rid the world of 'single stories.'” ―Chicago Review of Books
"Onuzo does a brilliant job . . . This is a novel full of heart, humanity, grief." ―The Brooklyn Rail
"Get to know Lagos in this irresistible masterpiece by Chibundu Onuzo. Searching, or rather, escaping to a better life is the motivation behind the protagonist, Chike's, arrival to Lagos. But that doesn't mean that he can escape the political scandals around him." ―WMTW, ABC television affiliate (Portland, ME)
“Lagos as a framing device illustrates the shifting, often tenuous connections between the public and private lives of Nigeria’s citizenry, and the specificity of Onuzo’s details fully embodies each character.” ―Foreword Reviews
"Welcome to Lagos is a deftly painted, intricate portrait of a city that isn't often explored in literature, and Chibundu Onuzo takes readers on a journey to the heart of it, filling each character-driven page with some of the most fascinating scenes we've read in a long, long time." ―PopSugar
"Reminiscent of the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe, Onuzo’s latest follows a Nigerian army officer who deserts his post and flees to Lagos with a band of ragtag runaways." ―PureWow
"In the streets of the diverse, madcap, magical, and intense city of Lagos, Nigeria, a ragtag group of folks fleeing from different circumstances find a home together, squatting in a politician’s abandoned apartment. The characters are dynamic and fascinating. . . . A remarkable and fresh book." ―Read It Forward
“A novel that manages to be both savvy and heartfelt, a hopeful testament to human connection and unlikely redemption.” ―The Riveter
“A high-spirited novel about aspirations and escape, innocence and corruption.” ―Queens Gazette
"A tangy Ocean’s Eleven–esque escapade that exposes class and ethnic divides in the country even as it manages to mock the West for its colonial gaze toward the African continent as a whole. Full of nuance, the story spares no one as it careens toward its satisfying finale." ―Booklist (starred review)
"In her winning U.S. debut, Onuzo anatomizes a tumultuous city and its inhabitants, from street hustlers to well-connected government ministers. . . . Onuzo’s briskly plotted novel is a rewarding exploration of the limits of idealism and transparency against widespread cynicism and corruption." ―Publishers Weekly
"Onuzo colorfully and adeptly stitches many patches of dialect, religion, class, and gender to portray life in Lagos. Purchase where curricula include an emphasis on contemporary world literature or where Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is studied." ―School Library Journal
"Onuzo's novel is at once a Robin Hood tale and a cross section of Nigerian society. . . . She avoids grand defining statements about Lagos, smartly letting the predicaments of each character show how the city's lawlessness runs parallel to its bustle. . . . The novel is marked by lively storytelling throughout. A well-turned tribute to the freedom and frustrations of a diverse city." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Welcome to Lagos is a delicate, honest depiction of humanity in a country’s darkest periods. Chibundu Onuzo brilliantly captures the essence of a people and a place." ―Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes The Sun
“Chibundu Onuzo has written a compulsively readable book that pulsates with the energy of one of the world's greatest cities. She cracks Lagos wide open, deftly showing us the lives of the strivers, dreamers, orphans, heroes and villains who make up this world. A complex, layered portrait of a singular place that brims with a piercing, incisive affection for its subject” ―Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman
“Overflowing with lush descriptive commentary, Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle power. Onuzo stands on the shoulders of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and from her perch offers her own fresh, but assured view.” ―Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of A Kind of Freedom
About the Author
- Lexile measure : 810L
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0545349253
- ISBN-10 : 1936787806
- Publisher : Catapult (May 1, 2018)
- Dimensions : 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #879,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book examined themes of political corruption, family bonds, and much more. Further, in the novel, new characters were neatly placed in the group that would create more obstacles for them and future heartbreak.
This book was an utter joy to read.
Top reviews from other countries
Onuzo’s Welcome to Lagos starts with five major characters - or, dreamers caught in the web of reality - who run to Lagos for refuge. Chike Ameobi, a military officer and Yemi Oke, his subaltern, are on the run from their “barren army base” as they are uncomfortable with the constant brutality of the Niger Deltan people. On their escape mission, they meet Fineboy, a Niger Deltan militant, with the dream of becoming a radio presenter, and subsequently, Isoken - whose parents might have been killed during a clash between soldiers and an invaded village.
The four unintentionally embark on a journey to Lagos, meeting Oma - a woman fleeing from her well-to-do but abusive husband. All five arrive Lagos with hardly any thing but a mutual motive: to start a different life in a different place. What they, however, soon find as they embrace Lagos is: its potential to leave one “en-poored”, enriched, exterminated, or all three! The first “E” finds Chike, Yemi, Fineboy, Isoken and Oma living under a bridge.
The second “E” finds them living in an exquisite underground apartment, later discovered as a hideout for the Minister of Education, Chief Sandayo. Unannounced, Sandayo, on embezzling 10 million US Dollars from the state’s coffers, soon joins the party. Fineboy thereafter adds a plus one, Ahmed Bakare - founder of Nigerian Journal - who soon finds himself wanted for a politically-indicting news article. The apartment - essentially a refuge of runaways - becomes a melting pot for the seven characters of different tribes, religion and class.
The most worthwhile thing about this book, to me, however, is not the city of Lagos captured, but the characters - the remarkability of which reminds me greatly of Barbara Kingslover’s The Poisonwood Bible. Chike, Yemi, Fineboy, Isoken and Oma are so beautifully painted; though I argue that they are excessively optimistic and moralistic, and borderline unrealistic. This however does not diminish the value of the author’s imagery, which adds salt to this sweet soup of a story, and proves her to be a true storyteller.
Though the book is centred around Lagos, it is however more about the country (Nigeria) than the city (Lagos). Lagos just serves as a backdrop for the country. Onuzo uses the journalistic juxtaposition of excerpts from Ahmed's Nigerian Journal to wittily showcase multi-facets of Nigeria. These excerpts add to the prosaic pulchritude of the novel. They also make you wonder how "free" the media is and how "indepent" journalism is, if Ahmed is on the chase for covering the defunct political system.
Onuzo, like Kan, show Lagos as “a carnivore of a city that swallowed even bones.” There is just something about it that attracts and accepts everyone. It could be the “illusion of progress” which is not totally illusionary. It could be the desire to be enriched, despite the stakes of being “en-poored” and exterminated are higher. Whatever it is, Lagos, like water, you find through Chibundu Onuzo’s Welcome To Lagos and in the voice of the legendary Fela, no get enemy.
Read full review on our website.
For The Book Banque.
At first the story is a little slow and not as captivating but given a little bit of time and the author draws you in with the different realities each of the main characters have to face in their lives. There were many moments in this book, where I laughed out loud literally. The story was intriguing, funny and relatable. I was however, a little disappointed with the end. I think the author could have elaborated more on the lives of the main characters. Other than that, I enjoyed this book and will be recommending it!