19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Heart In The Right Place; Brain Missing In Action,
This review is from: The Other Hand (Paperback)
It is commendable that Chris Cleave has tried to reach out to chick-lit-type readers and draw them into the uncomfortable subject of asylum-seekers. The storyline rattles along and is affecting in its way. But if you're looking for credibility of narrative or dialogue; leave well alone.
As for the depiction of Nigeria: oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Cleave falls into the "Africa is a country" trap, bundling up a grab-bag of dark continent stereotypes he probably picked up while doodling during O-level Geography lessons. Part wrong: mountains and tea exports in Nigeria?: that would be Kenya you're thinking of. Part stereotype: movies shown on sheets (did that ever happen?; certainly not after the Nollywood/video boom); villagers ignorant of the outside world (er, ever heard of roads and minibuses and schools). Part unable to read a map: leave Abuja, travel round the SE of Nigeria, and get back by sunset? Only if your car is supersonic.
Of course to the vast majority of readers, this won't matter, but it's symptomatic of the rather slapdash, plotlined-on-the-back-of-a-fag-packet approach to the whole book. Plus, Chris, if you got five people to provide "several patient readings and insightful editorial notes"; why on earth didn't you add a sixth who had actually been to Nigeria? Perhaps because they'd have punched holes in your story faster than termites in a doorframe.