Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,

[REVIEW] Will Ferguson, 419

I wasn't surprised when Will Ferguson's novel 419 won the Giller Award. From the moment I opened its pages, I knew that 419 was superb.

For starters, there's the compelling subject matter. In wintry Canada, a middle-aged man is killed in an unusual car accident. On closer examination, it turns out that the man's death was a suicide, that he took his own life after he had been taken over completely by a Nigerian 419 scam. In Nigeria, meanwhile, the people involved in this particular 419 scheme whether tangentially or otherwise live their difficult lives in a country beset by corruption and terrible instability. Things get taken up to eleven when the Canadian's daughter travels to Nigeria with the intent of making the people who took her father from her pay.

I found this a very satisfying book. I've been familiar with the mechanics of 419 scams, and their place in our globalizing world, for a decade; a novel that treats the phenomenon fully is always welcome. A novel that has good plotting and compelling characters like 419 is all the more welcome. Ferguson's writing style, meanwhile, has evolved substantially beyond the acute humour of his Canadian travelogues to really connect with the reader.
Tags: book reviews, canadian literature, globalization, nigeria, popular literature, reviews
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