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Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  393 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
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 and sense of individuality. Then her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was murdered there, and she didn't return for 10 years.

Recently, she decided to rediscover and come to te
Paperback, 311 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Granta Books
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(showing 1-30 of 1,389)
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Feb 20, 2015 Zanna rated it liked it
I imagined this would bear some similarity to Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina's Some Day I Will Write About This Place, but there is nothing parallel here to Wainaina's sardonic critique of neo-colonial representations of his country and continent. There isn't time for it! I fear that this, the white 'liberal' clamour to be educated by the 'Other', was what prevented me from connecting with Saro-Wiwa quickly; it took me about 200 pages to warm up to her, more or less as she started to write ap ...more
Petra X
Memoir meets travelogue meets popculture. It's ok, nothing memorable. The only thing I really got from this book was that the utter corruption of Nigeria where the begging letter scam is a whole semi-legitimate business, is that the utter corruption of the place is being replaced by the utter corruption and cruelty of the Islamic movement sweeping the country. It is opposed only by evangelical Christians and that means however it is, it's going to get bloodier and going to get worse for women. T ...more
Dec 26, 2015 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficile avere un compagno di viaggio migliore di Noo Saro-Wiva, viaggiatrice e scrittrice di guide turistiche, qui in viaggio in uno dei paesi meno turistici del mondo.

Questa volta va oltre la guida turistica.
E va oltre il reportage di viaggio.
È una riflessione sulla Nigeria, il suo paese di origine, che abbraccia anche un’ampia parte dell’Africa, più o meno direttamente.

Ed è anche un percorso familiare.

Perché Noo è la figlia di Ken, l’autore del magnifico ‘Sozaboy’, lett
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I thoroughly enjoyed this, somewhat to my surprise, since I am often impatient with travelogue segments in fiction. But then, a nonfiction travel book succeeds if it informs and entertains the reader with information about a place, while fictional travels all too often serve as cover for lack of plot.

And this book both informs and entertains. Saro-Wiwa is Nigerian by birth, but was raised and currently lives in England. After years of avoiding her home country, following uncomfortable childhood
May 06, 2013 Nnedi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It was everything I wanted and expected.It took me to all the places in Nigeria that I haven't been able to go and it was from a point of view I could really relate to (that of an outsider, an insider and neither). Noo (properly pronounced "Naw") has written a very rare and insightful book that shows sides of Nigeria that are not explored enough. And this book has moments that were funny as hell (my favorite was when a woman shouted, "You're crazy!" at a danfo driver that drov ...more
i read this rather impulsively as soon as I found out about it. I've read a lot of Nigerian literature over the past few years and I have done quite a bit of nonfiction reading of Nigeria too. Nigeria is one of those beguilingly complex countries that i don't ever want to stop learning about and someday i would like to be able to visit it. But in the meantime, Saro-Wiwa's book was a good stand-in for that trip that may never happen, taking me to a lot of the areas that i have read and learned ab ...more
Mark Staniforth
Jan 25, 2012 Mark Staniforth rated it liked it
Reading Noo Saro-Wiwa's account of her travels in Nigeria, Looking For Transwonderland (pub. Granta), it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the current wave of Islamist terror gripping the country's north was inevitable, if not overdue.
That a hopelessly corrupt and wholly uncontrollable nation of upwards of one hundred and sixty million people, swinging from strict Sharia law in cities like Kano to evangelical christianity in Lagos, has survived so long as a single entity seems remarkable
Author (who's first name is pronounced "gnaw") travels through several regions of Nigeria in an attempt to determine how much she fits in there, having lived in England almost her entire life, except for extended summer visits "back home" as a child. Other readers have criticized the book for her flying visits from city to city, which I found to be the point -- the country is so diverse that nowhere (except perhaps Lagos) is particularly "typically" Nigerian. Final chapter in her hometown of Por ...more
May 29, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it
My thoughts:
• I really enjoyed this book – it is part travelogue, part memoir, part history lesson, part commentary written in an engaging thoughtful informative manner.
• I have read several books on Nigeria but most of the books concentrated on one region or a specific conflict regarding a specific event or a specific ethnic group. But this book gave me a great introduction to Nigeria as a whole and as separate regions – it open up my eyes on how much more I have to learn.
• I especially liked h
Jun 17, 2014 Simon rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating, if somewhat depressing, look at modern Nigeria from the point of view of a Nigerian raised in the UK. The author's relationship with Nigeria is complicated by her murdered activist father's story and her discomfort with certain aspects of her cultural homeland make for some interesting clashes. Saro-Wiwa explores many different regions and aspects of Nigeria and its history (although in the end this is more of a personal travelogue than a history or sociology book) in a lively and ...more
Jan 21, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: the economist
(4.0) Kind of a travelogue mixed in with semi-nostalgic childhood memories in Nigeria

Noo (pronounced something close to "gnaw", apparently) returns to Nigeria, her birth home, from London, where she moved to as a child. She returns to places she visited while growing up and approaches many of the locations from both aspects. A very honest and in-the-moment account of her several weeks' trip to Nigeria (the specific purpose wasn't clear...perhaps it was primarily to write this book while also vis
Mary Case
Apr 10, 2014 Mary Case rated it really liked it
I am enjoying an education on a country I know very little about. I was wishing for a map of Nigeria in the book. Have a map handy. Also, I found many pics online of the various sites and cities. The book is decent but Nigeria doesn't seem like a very nice place. It points out how Nigeria used to be an educated, progressive country but has since become plagued with a religious & ideological fervor where environmental degradation and poverty rule. Nigeria has recently become the largest econ ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Kenny rated it liked it
When it comes to travel books, Nigeria must be in the 'least likely' destinations for most travellers - what do we think of? Scams, corruption, and er...well er what? So that's an intriguing point to read a book, and then you read the author's name again. She's the daughter of Ken Saro-Wiwa, an environmental and anti-corruption critic who was killed (a judicial death sentence they argued...aye) by the then dictatorship in 1995. So Noo Saro-Wiwa has been living in the UK for most of her formative ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Marcy rated it really liked it
Noo Saro Wiwa's father was murdered in Nigeria. He opposed government corruption and environmental degradation by Shell Oil. Noo was thrilled that her father was insistent upon sending their family to the United Kingdom to live and study. Noo no longer wanted to visit the country that murdered her father. In time, however, Noo decided to take a journey around and through Nigeria. Knowing that Nigerians are brash and loud, Noo began to understand and appreciate the chaos of Lagos, even though the ...more
May 12, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Raised in England Noo Saro-Wiwa's summers were reluctantly spent in Nigeria - homeland of her father activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Noo dreaded these trips, missing the simplest luxuries of home in England.

Noo has not visited Nigeria since her father's murder ten years ago. Noo decides to explore her father's homeland as she takes us on a vivid tour of Nigeria giving the reader a glimpse into its society, culture, scenery and various terrain and much more.

Noo has a simple refreshing captivating writin
Aug 16, 2013 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this book for the varied information provided about Nigeria. The personal story of the author felt a bit lacking somehow. Perhaps she held back too much for that aspect of the book to make an impact on me. The book as a whole was very interesting for me as a reader as I had little knowledge of Nigeria.
Wendy Lavery
Sep 28, 2012 Wendy Lavery rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating, moving and sometimes funny travel book/memoir telling the story of the author's trip to her homeland, Nigeria. She found it frustrating at times and documents her thoughts and memories honestly, at times painfully. It is a very good read, especially if you like travel and memoir.
M. Sofia
Nov 09, 2015 M. Sofia rated it it was ok
Return to the country where Noo Saro-Wiwa was born, but she has never recognized as his own and look at it with different eyes: this is what that Noo Saro-Wiwa bravely tried to do, daughter of an activist and writer, grew up in England . For her when she was a child the summer holidays compulsory in Nigeria were a torment. The native village of her parents became a sort of "tropical gulag" where she was bored and suffering, dreaming Disneyland or the beaches of the Caribbean.
A rite cut short by
Jul 08, 2015 Efe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I had a love/hate relationship with this book, similar to the author’s relationship and feelings about Nigeria. When I loved the book it was because of her beautiful prose, vivid description of the places, things and the Nigerians that she encounters throughout her trip. These things kept me going at times when I just wanted to put the book down as a result of the author’s constant criticism and political commentary about Nigeria. It was not that I disagreed with her comments; it was just not wh ...more
Tom Romig
Dec 12, 2014 Tom Romig rated it it was amazing
An unusually well written work, part travel book, part memoir, part social analysis. Born in Nigeria but raised in England and educated there and in America, Noo Saro-Wiwa is the daughter of murdered activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. She summered in Nigeria as a child, but for years after her father's death in 1995 she didn't return. Feeling a strong need to come to terms with her past and the country of her birth, she took this four-month journey around Nigeria. She deals with a range of topic ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Kemi rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. We don't hear enough stories about Africa written by Africans. That obviously creates a disparity in representation. Views can be stereotypical -- I remember the photo floating around the web a few months ago about how all books about Africa had a picture of sunset over the Serengeti with a giraffe or elephant in silhouette.

Africa isn't ALL like that.

Which is one of reasons why I REALLY liked Noo (pronounced gnaw) Saro-Wiwa's travel memoir. It was honest. It was her experi
Jan 04, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
This book really struck a chord with me as the author goes back to her country of origin to find out about its many wonders but also to renew her acquaintance with it - something I'm certainly familiar with. Seeking out her roots, she decides to go to Nigeria from Britain and travel across it extensively for four months. The daughter of a murdered environmental Nigerian activist, Noo feels anxious about this endeavour. Flying over Nigeria, her childhood memories come back to her with feelings of ...more
Sep 29, 2013 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking for Transwonderland is basically travel literature. The author Noo Saro-Wiwa is the daughter of murdered Nigerian activist Ken Sara-Wiwa. Noo was raised primarily in Europe and England. In this book, Noo returns to visit many of the places she saw as a child when she would visit Nigeria on her school vacations.

Noo's perspective is interesting because as child/teenage visitor she did not enjoy her visits to Nigeria because it was not a popular resort destination where many of her classma
May 28, 2013 Jendella rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
At first I wasn't so sure about Looking for Transwonderland... Noo Saro-Wiwa's conflicted relationship with the country made me feel earlier on somewhat uncomfortable with her commentary, but as I got further into the book I did feel like I was on the journey with her as her hesitations, fears and frustrations were addressed and answered - in part. She does an excellent job of painting a realistic picture of Nigeria with all it's flaws and glory. There is also some interesting cultural and polit ...more
Jun 12, 2013 Edgar rated it really liked it
Noo Saro Wiwa spent four months travelling all regions of Nigeria in what was no ordinary holiday. It reminded me of ‘Holidays in Hell” by P.J. O’Rourke, though in that book the author actually had fun for much of the time. Saro Wiwa says that there are probably more voluntary tourists to the moon than to Nigeria. Her book explains why. (I wish I could have quoted that when a Nigerian once explained to me that the aids epidemic in his country was caused by tourists !).

This is a brutally honest d
Gavin Felgate
Mar 26, 2013 Gavin Felgate rated it really liked it
Noo Saro Wiwa is the daughter of Ken Saro Wiwa, a Nigerian politician who died in 1995, and was raised in London. This book recounts how she visited the country of her family's heritage, and describes all of the places she visited in meticulous detail. The Transwonderland of the title refers to a Disneyland-type theme park that is mentioned early on in the book.

Right from the start, I was fascinated by how the book describes life in Nigeria, talking about the crowds in Lagos, as well as the hawk
KEL Stephen
Feb 26, 2013 KEL Stephen rated it it was amazing
Looking for Transwonderland by Noo Saro-Wiwa
I first heard this serialized on Woman's HOur on Radio 4 (BBC) and immediately got the Kindle version. This was a good purchase.
Noo Saro-Wiwa's visually wealthy account of her tour round her land of birth is honest, humane and often very funny, her tour of Nigeria and her open mind as to her experiences kept the read remarkably fresh - although having said that, I also think she could have written a highly entertaining book on Lagos alone.
She made so
May 18, 2013 Muphyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travel enthusiasts and those interested in Nigeria
I did it!! I read a book club book for Great African Reads on time!!! :D

Really quite enjoyed the insight into life and culture in Nigeria through the eyes of expat Noo Saro-Wiwa. Gives you a great sense of the place, especially the diversity of tribes, languages and cultures right across Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa's travel memoir nicely interweaves history with current affairs, observations of daily life and her - sometimes hilarious - explorations of 'tourist attractions', and throughout, she manages t
Jun 04, 2013 Isabel rated it it was amazing
In 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed in Nigeria after a show tribunal for being an environmental activist. His children grew up between mostly England and Nigeria, and last year his daughter published an autobiography/travel report about returning to Nigeria after many years. The result is a combination of partially extremely funny travelogue, an exploration of nostalgia for the places of your childhood, and some deeply troubling reflections on where Nigeria is going. I cannot get over how good th ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Ashton rated it it was amazing
I LOVED IT. It's a great in-depth look into the beauty and turmoil of modern day Nigeria. It gives context and an analysis regarding Nigeria's rich history. You won't regret reading this if you're looking for a travel narrative that engages a reader and makes him/her think.
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