Thank you to NetGalley and Faber and Faber for providing me with an early release of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Welcome to Lagos is a novel centred around a cast of seven people who are thrown together in a fit of survival. We join ex-soldiers having deserted the army having questioned the motives around the ’causes’ they are fighting for, women who have fled violent husbands and abandoned in the jungle and wide-boys who are out for making a buck. This group of people are slung together noting that their best chance of survival is in the side streets of Lagos: the city that “would kill you if you wasted time on yesterday“.
Onuzo captures the corruption and political landscape of a modern Nigeria noting that “The oil companies worked all hours, filling and floating barrels of oil to overseas markets that decided what they were worth: fifty dollars today, a hundred tomorrow and the whole of Nigeria’s fortunes rose and fell on what foreigners would pay for her.” The descriptions of the squalid living conditions of those who live in poverty are powerful and the decline of those once in power who feel the wrath when they speak out against those in rule is striking.
The group of seven who become a working family end up harbouring a fallen Minister. This Minister’s motives are queried by the reader throughout the book and to be honest – I wish Onuzo developed this further. The story ends as one would expect however, the lives of the journalists who seek to expose the ingrained corruption remain static as does the status quo of that corruption. Perhaps that is what Onuzo wants the reader to take away from reading this novel. That being said – I enjoyed the pace of this novel and was impressed with how well I connected with each of the characters.
Recommended for: people who enjoy a well rounded story.
Favourite quote: “Bravery was to dash out of the bomb shelter and grab the child left crying on the veranda. Courage was to go to the stream the day after a bomb had scattered your friend on that path because water must be fetched to sustain the life that was left. Everyone saw bravery but courage was in secret.”
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!