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Oil on Water

From the desks of Nigeria’s newsrooms, two journalists are recruited to find the kidnapped wife of a British oil engineer. Zaq, aninfamous media hack, knows what’s in store, but Rufus has no idea what he’s let himself in for.


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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.


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Editorial Review

This book shows the conflict and damage that the oil companies have done to the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Oil companies are reaping the rewards while the people of Nigeria are suffering. I found Helon Habila to be a great storyteller and the book held my attention. It was a bit violent is places but Habila's tone seems to soften the blow. The characters were complex and the plot was interesting. The story shifts from the present to the past and tends to confuse the reader in places. I would highly recommend this book to those who like contemporary African literature or those wanting to learn about the devastation from an oil spill. (