Oil on Waterby Helon Habila
In the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta, the wife of a British oil executive has been kidnapped. Two journalists—a young upstart, Rufus, and a once-great, now disillusioned veteran, Zaq—are sent to find her. In a story rich with atmosphere and taut with suspense, Oil on Water explores the conflict between idealism and cynical disillusionment in a journey full of danger and unintended consequences.
As Rufus and Zaq navigate polluted rivers flanked by exploded and dormant oil wells, in search of “the white woman,” they must contend with the brutality of both government soldiers and militants. Assailed by irresolvable versions of the “truth” about the woman’s disappearance, dependent on the kindness of strangers of unknowable loyalties, their journalistic objectivity will prove unsustainable, but other values might yet salvage their human dignity.
Helon Habila is a Nigerian novelist and poet. He worked as a lecturer and journalist in Nigeria before moving to England to become the African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. In 2002 he published his first novel, Waiting for an Angel. His writing has won many prizes including the Caine Prize in 2001. In 2005/2006 he became the Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, NY.
In 2006 he co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14. His second novel, Measuring Time, was published in 2007. His third novel, Oil on Water, which deals with environmental pollution in the oil rich Nigerian Delta, was published in the US in 2011. His anthology, The Granta Book of the African Short Story came out September, 2011.
Habila studied at the University of Jos and at the University of East Anglia and now teaches creative writing at George Mason University, Washington D.C.
Habila is a founding member and currently (as of 2011) serves on the advisory board ofAfrican Writers Trust, ”a non-profit entity which seeks to coordinate and bring together African writers in the Diaspora and writers on the continent to promote sharing of skills and other resources, and to foster knowledge and learning between the two groups.