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419 Hardcover – 29 Aug 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1781855056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781855058
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.3 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 680,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'As good a novel about the world in its entirety, from Canada to Nigeria, as I've seen in years, or will likely see in years to come. It stays with you, it makes you think, and it hurts' Gary Shteyngart.

'Sharp and unpredictable, full of surprising, wonderful characters. It isn't just clever - it's spectacular' Roddy Doyle.

'An elegant literary thriller ... 419 is immersive, neatly structured and full of smart dialogue and oblique insights' Guardian.

'A very clever book ... well constructed and compelling' The Sunday Herald.

'Compelling' The Times.

'An ambitious work about the complexities of reparative justice ... elegantly written and evocative of place' The Sunday Telegraph.

'The best and most detailed account of 419 scams I have ever seen ... I can see that this would, and probably will, make a powerful, sweeping moving. And the climax is worthy of any thriller' Financial Times.

'This epic and shocking tale of international corruption and revenge bites hard' Saga.

'A taut tale of internet deception' Vogue.

Book Description

A stunning literary thriller from the 2012 winner of the Giller prize that asks, how far would you go for revenge?

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kiwiflora on 19 May 2014
Format: Paperback
Moral of the story: never ever click on those spam emails telling you have won stuff, or those wanting help for ill relatives. And what ever you do never ever reply to one, even if it is to say sorry, wrong person. Just don't.

Because that is what this novel is about. An elderly man is found dead and his daughter, Laura, takes it upon herself to find out why he died, as this would appear to not be your normal suicide. Her research takes her to Lagos, Nigeria, where so many of these emails originate from.

So who or what is 419? The number 419 refers to the article in the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. In this case scams of the advance fee nature. Such scams have been around for centuries, but became much more common place in the 1980s, and with the arrival of the internet, became open slather as it became increasingly diifficult to track down the origin of the emails sent out. Nigeria is not the only country, by the way, guilty of this type of fraud, but it seems that the emails from Nigeria have a common thread of unbelievable wealth just a few clicks of the mouse away if only you do as asked. It comes back to "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probabaly is". So why do people get sucked into these frauds, losing thousands and thousands in the process? That is what this novel is about. And by crikey it is alarming and good - a real thriller.

While Laura is chasing down those responsible for her father's problems, in Nigeria itself, there are problems of a different kind, Nigeria having been blessed with enormous reserves of mineral wealth, especially oil. Reading this book you could be forgiven for thinking Nigeria is a mess, and in so many ways it is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Sewell on 28 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was good but missed its potential. It is well written, flows quite well, never boring, but this reader was left with lots of questions unanswered. The character of Nandy (might not get spelling right as I listened to the Audiobook) was introduced far too late in the novel, and after the long build-up of his story - which in itself was fascinating in terms of the history of oil exploitation in Nigeria - he is just summarily eliminated from it. He seemed to have no context in this novel, but could have been an interesting subject of another novel altogether.
Also, the long build-up of the the walk-about of the pregnant girl. What was her story? Why were we never told it?
The motivations and final state of mind of the suicidal father was also unanswered. A lengthy promising build-up, and then just having a trite one sentence explanation from his wife. "He just wanted to be a hero". The reader has invested a lot of time, energy and emotion into the story, and is left with crumbs.
Lastly, I would have liked the heroin's potential love story with the police officer to have been developed a little bit more. It seemed so promising, but we were left wondering.
Having said all this, the final scenes in Nigeria were RIVETING, CLEVER AND REWARDING. I would definitely read future books by this writer. I think he will be great one day.
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By Mr. Iain R. Wear on 22 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
Will Ferguson seems to have a liking for con games. His 2007 novel, "Hustle" (published as "Spanish Fly" in some countriess), followed a pair of 1930 short con grifters and their willing protege. However, in his Giller Prize (Canada's equivalent to the Booker Prize) winning novel ''419'', Ferguson comes right up to date and focuses on a longer con, one which many of us will be aware of.

Anyone who has ever opened an E-Mail which proves to be a plea for assistance in getting large amounts of money ahead of the authorities will recognise the theme. Laura Curtis' father had such an E-Mail and having tried to help and spent all his money, he has driven his car off a bridge. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, a pregnant young woman walks through the dust, trying to escape her family and find something that ever she doesn't know what she is looking for. In the Niger Delta, meanwhile, the oil companies are moving in and a whole way of life is changing in the fishing villages there.

It's easy to see why this is a prize winning novel from quite early on. Ferguson mixes up his stories brilliantly, flitting from the snowy accident scene of Canada to the dusty landscape of Northern Nigeria and the crowded city life in Lagos without pause. Somehow, even with such differing locations, Ferguson provides a decent picture of each one without there ever being a feeling that there is a preference. No matter which location the characters are living in, they will face a struggle of some kind.

Perhaps the real surprise was how I ended up feeling about many of the characters in the novel. No matter whether they are conman or conned, almost everyone here feels as if they are a victim in their own way.
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Format: Paperback
I found this an excellent, original read. I don't believe I've ever read anything about this issue before. The story is very well-written, the descriptions of Nigeria are very evocative - you can almost taste and smell Lagos and the Delta - and Mr Ferguson has created characters with whom I could empathise. I also learned a lot, since although I knew of the 419 scammers, this is the first time I have ever heard of scam-baiters. Nice to know that somewhere people are at least trying to make sure the biters are bit, so to speak!

My only small gripe - and it's a very small one - is that I would have liked to know a little more about why Amina set off on her trek. I can imagine several reasons, but I would have liked to know the one Mr Ferguson had in mind. But that is a very minor issue in what was a fascinating read. I look forward to Mr Ferguson's next book!
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