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Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria [Paperback]

Noo Saro-Wiwa
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Jan 2013
Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to Nigeria - a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts. Then her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was murdered there, and she didn't return for 10 years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father loved. She travelled from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the empty Transwonderland Amusement Park. Looking for Transwonderland is an engaging portrait of a country whose beauty and variety few of us will experience, depicted with wit and insight by a refreshing new voice in contemporary travel writing.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Publications Ltd (3 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847083315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847083319
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"What Noo Saro-Wiwa illuminates in her compelling account of a five-month journey around the land of her birth is how it feels to be a Nigerian today, getting by in a country that sometimes seems as though it had been designed to thwart initiative, subvert integrity and madden its 160m inhabitants ... The author s strength is that, although her patience is worn thin by all the scamming, scheming and privation, she never reaches the end of her tether. Instead, her anger dissolves into solidarity with a people she knew hitherto only from dreaded childhood holidays"-Financial Times

"It would be easy to focus on the colourful insanity that is Africa s most populous nation. But Ms Saro-Wiwa is careful to avoid caricature. Curious, she travels out of Lagos to corners of the country many Nigerians never see .... Along the way, she allows herself to be surprised by kindness and humour, making new friends who open her eyes to the passion, wit and ingenuity of her homeland"-Economist

"This is an affectionate portrait of a loud and lively nation with infuriating potential"-Metro

"Saro-Wiwa is sharp and funny, both frustrated and charmed by Nigeria ... She may not make you rush out to book a flight to Lagos, but she certainly brings a new perspective to Africa s most populous country"-Prospect

" The dominant tone of this book is one of humour and affection ... Saro-Wiwa s insider/outsider view of Nigeria makes intriguing reading. She is fiercely honest and compassionate about a county most tourists travel miles to avoid. Her father was hanged for speaking his mind; we should be thankful his fearless daughter will not be deterred from speaking hers"-Sunday Telegraph"

"Nigeria does not top many people's lists of the ideal holiday destination ... So all the more praise to travel writer Noo Saro-Wiwa for producing such an affectionate and irreverent guide to a place so far from the beaten tourist track ... in her gentle style, she peels away many of the clichés that envelop Nigeria and reveals both the beauty and brutality of this slumbering superpower"-Observer"

"Noo Saro-Wiwa s double advantage is to understand personally the mindset of Nigerians as a distinct ethnicity while reporting back to us as an acculturated Westerner ... she writes with a candid humour that sharply colours the pains and pleasures of homecoming"-The Times

"Her gifts lie in her keen eye for the sights, sounds, souls and insanities of contemporary Nigeria, and in her ability to recreate these. The book is a breathless chronicle of diversity ... Her encounters are at once full of pathos and brightness"-Independent

"Noo Saro-Wiwa s exceptional story lends an interesting weight to Looking for Transwonderland, as she begins to rediscover the place she used to call home ... her vivid portraits of Nigerian life are intelligent and often very witty ... she offers a bright and honest account of Nigeria, a mad melting-pot that few travellers, especially those in her position, are willing to take on" --Traveller

"Hands up those of you who are planning to go to Nigeria on your next trip. Me neither ... But after reading Looking for Transwonderland I m thinking of changing my plans ... As she travels through the country Saro-Wiwa is won over by the tolerance, humour and resilience of Nigerians" --Wanderlust

Praise for "Looking for Transwonderland"

"The daughter of slain Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa revisits her homeland as an adult in this absorbing tour of that complex African country...As she tours the country and gets to know people from its many ethnic groups, she gains a better understanding of and appreciation for Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa is a sharp and insightful guide, giving readers an intimate look at the varied regions that comprise this fascinating country." --"Booklist" (Starred)

"The author allows her love-hate relationship with Nigeria to flavor this thoughtful travel journal, lending it irony, wit and frankness." --"Kirkus"

About the Author

NOO SARO-WIWA was born in Nigeria in 1976 and raised in England. She attended King's College London and Columbia University in New York and has written travel guides for Rough Guide and Lonely Planet. She currently lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well of the beaten track & excellent for it. 21 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have visited Nigeria several times. It is a baffling place. The great question has always been, how does a country, so inherently wealthy, serve its population so badly? When I enquired as to travelling internally in Nigeria, (for example to the plateau of Jos), my Nigerian friends strongly counselled against it. This book describes a journey many Nigerians would like to undertake, but most would hesitate to do, mainly for personal safety issues. Highway robberies, lack of hygiene, corrupt police etc.. The Anglicised Nigerian author illuminates not only the physical topography of the land, but also unravels some reasons as to why the country is as it is. A very good read, and well off the beaten track. I really do recommend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book. As someone who also was brought up outside my country of birth and forced to visit as a child, the author's journey around Nigeria really resonated with me. I loved learning about Nigeria, seen through her eyes. I came away feeling the love the author has for her roots, yet the frustration she and many others feel about the ineffectual military and civilian governments Nigeria has had since independence. The star of the journey really was Nigeria and its people, I'd love to visit one day!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! 3 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after listening to some of the episodes on Radio 4. It will make you laugh & make you cry. If you have lived in Nigeria you will absolutely identify with a lot of Noo's witty & insightful observations. This book was written with love & honesty & always finding gems in unexpected places. I didn't want the book to end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Personal Picture 29 May 2013
By traveller TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was an excellent read - through the author's narration of her experiences, I learned so much about a country I have never visited and know very little about, and the details about her life woven through the book added to the enjoyment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable record of travels in Nigeria 9 Jan 2013
By Sandrab
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this as it was on special offer and a very good buy. I had heard of the authors father but knew nothing about the family at all. I was not disappointed, the book is riveting. I am so glad the book goes beyond the surface, so many people get completely sidetracked by the topic of corruption and fail to see anything else. The author succeeds in capturing much of the humour and warmth of Nigerian people and writes with wit and honesty. She does share her frustrations and fears and I think the book is better for their inclusion. No book can capture the reality of a whole nation and its people but I think she does offer a snapshot and gives an insight into the experience of homecoming for an expatriate.

All in all an excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read 12 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, first hearing a couple of the serial readings on Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4).

Noo Saro-Wiwa's visually wealthy account of her tour round her land of birth is honest, humane and often very funny, the scenery changing so as to keep it fresh. She made some profound and moving observations that tempt me already to reread the book and unfortunately I was unable to highlight these gems as I couldn't work out how to do it on my new Kindle (basic). I kiss my teeth at myself for that.

The brief pedagogic moments of Nigerian history, especially the mark her father made in that nation and on his own family sit very well with the backdrops of the chaos of Lagos, the dust of the north, the humid forests and crummy hotels.

She writes beautifully and with an economy (ie no verbosity) that for me was welcome as too often these days many writers over "wordsmith" what they have to communicate, their skill coming before the tale. Horses for courses though, some like that intellectual exercise.

With her mixed feelings and alternating optimism and pessimism for Nigeria becoming increasingly nuanced as her travels progressed, she did develop her dream of an economic future for Nigeria which I found immensely intelligent. She should be an economist really.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book. 18 Feb 2012
By Hussa
This is a remarkable book on Nigeria. It is frequently hilarious, tender and harsh. My favourite chapter was the journey to the amusement park the book is named after. This chapter communicates her journey on so many levels and it really made me laugh. The author gave me a great insight into a country I knew very little about before. It is a fluid and lucid read, and really entertaining.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for Transwonderland -Travels in Nigeria 29 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A culture clash taking place within one young woman. Insightful snapshots of Nigerian life viewed through eyes of British raised Nigerian. Comic moments written with warmth and empathy. Riveting reading by a skilled writer who has deep concerns for the country of her parents birth . Sheds light on dilemma of cultural clashes in our increasingly multi cultural society, Excellently written. Good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting insight
An interesting insight into a country that there is little written about. The author is a young woman and it is a glimpse in to her experiences travelling around a difficult... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Emma
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow start....
Found this one hard to get into. A brilliant example of how different two cultures can be. Persevere with this text.
Published 2 months ago by Sarah Swift
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and beautifully written
I had no interest in going to Nigeria before reading this book - I just like reading travel books. I may still never go, but what a compelling read this book was! Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jason Moran
4.0 out of 5 stars a gentle introduction to Nigeria
A whistlestop tour through an interesting country. Knowing next-to-nothing about Nigeria and it's history, I enjoyed this account from someone with a personal connection. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rosie P
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I have not been to Nigeria but feel as though I know it having read this book. The writing is very good, informative, humorous and clear. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MISS MELANIE J DAVIS
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality
Excellent purchase, good quality. Historical content is good. Once finished, Keep up the writing skills. I look forward to another edition.
Published 12 months ago by Oakwoodngr
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantabulous!!!!
Fantastic and fabulous. If you're Nigerian you'll love it, if you're not you'll love it!!!
Brilliant writing, doesn't feel like a travel book at, reads more like fiction, an... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Maria T Nwagwu
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide for anyone planning to visit Nigeria!
An excellent read especially for those of us who have lived and worked in Nigeria. I recommend that anyone visiting Nigeria should read this.
Published 14 months ago by Justin Time
2.0 out of 5 stars A tiring read
I didn't know what to expect of this book. Perhaps because I picked this up after reading Americanah by Vhimamanda, I found this tiresome and boring. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Book lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
I lived and worked in Nigeria for four years in the 1960s. I knew that I would never go back, but have retained an interest in the turbulent history of the country ever since. Read more
Published 18 months ago by WOL
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