Waiting for an Angel
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Waiting for an Angel

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Lomba is a young journalist living in Lagos under Nigeria's brutal military regime. His mind is full of soul music and girls and the novel he's writing. Yet when his room-mate goes mad and is beaten up by soldiers, his first love is forced to marry a man she doesn't want, and his neighbours decide to hold a demo that is bound to lead to a riot, Lomba realizes that he can n...more
Paperback, 227 pages
Published August 28th 2003 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 1st 2003)
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Friederike Knabe
With the words,"everything is politics in this country..." Lomba, a young aspiring novelist and poet, is hired for a local newspaper's arts page. Set in Lagos, the time the latter part of the nineteen nineties when Nigeria is controlled, yet again, by a brutal military regime, Helon Habila has created a powerful, moving portrait of life at the time. "It was a terrible time to be alive", explains Habila in his book's Afterword, "especially when you were young, talented and ambitious - and patriot...more
“It was a terrible time to be alive,” writes Helon Habila in his aftermath.

And indeed, the first story in this book of seven interconnected stories hits the reader with a wallop. Lomba – a writer – is one of many political prisoners, whose life has been upended and whose humanity is on the way to being extinguished by a corrupt system. But who is Lomba, really, and what brought him to the prison?

The answer isn’t revealed until the last story. In the interim, we learn much about him through narra...more
This is a novel of interconnected stories, set in Nigeria during the brutal military regime of Sani Abacha. The main character, Lomba, is a would-be novelist and journalist who runs afoul of Abacha's thugs, and he appears in most of the stories, loosely based on Habila himself. The book proceeds almost in a circular fashion, starting with Lomba when he is in jail and is asked to write love letters for the warden to the woman he hopes to win over. In other chapters, you see Lomba when he is a you...more
A very disappointing read. The book fails to capture the brutality of Sani Abacha's dictatorship as promised. What it does is capture the everyday insanity and contradictions of life in Nigeria - whole families dying on the inter city highways; young people going insane; universities closing down due to student protests or lecturers strikes; young women marrying older men for survival and to maintain their extended family; the sordid and brutal life of a Nigerian prison. This is the Nigeria of t...more
one of my favorite african author reads. it was good but confusing for me because he goes back and forth in the book. although this doesn't make the book bad. it was an okay book
awesome!! Helon writes with so much passion about that dark time in Nigeria...the millitary era. i'm proud to be a countrywoman of such talent.
May 15, 2008 South rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to South by: Reading Agency
Beautifully written insight into life in Nigeria's modern dictatorship. The atmosphere of tension and fear is almost tangible
Gripping story of love and journalistic integrity. Beautifully drawn characters and a heartbreaking ending.
Waiting for an Angel, by Helon Habila, is not an easy book to read. It’s a series of seven interlinked short stories, but after the first one, I put the book aside for a little while, just to catch my breath.

Winner of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for the Best First Book in Africa 2003, and also the Caine Prize for African Writing, Waiting for an Angel tells the story of a Nigerian journalist called Lomba, and it begins when he is in prison – where he has been for two years awaiting the trial...more
Richard Kunzmann
Love Poems, the first part of this book, won Habila the Caine Prize for African fiction. It is indeed a good narrative, and Waiting for an Angel is an attempt to enlarge the story, telling us were Lomba came from and what he was doing before he was imprisoned in a hellish Nigerian prison.

Habila’s various characters who twist and twirl around Lomba, the central poet and narrator, are all likeable and engaging. The historical context, namely Nigeria’s early-eighties political unrest, along with we...more
The opening story, which Habila won the Cain prize for, is beautifully imagined and told. The open-ended finale to Lomba's story allows for a hope that is much needed in Africa today. The other stories, though they do connect to the first one, are not as strong. I was on the edge of my seat during the suspenseful scene following the protest, but left feeling disjointed and a bit confused during some of the other scenes. Because the novel as a whole is so short, I had a hard time feeling intimate...more
Bolaji Olatunde
In my humble opinion, "Waiting For An Angel" is as close to genius as a writer can get; at least, that's the way I view any novel which can hold me spellbound for twenty-four hours without a single thought about life-sustaining necessities. As one who lived in Nigeria at the time the novel was set, it stirred bittersweet memories of the life under military dictatorships. The simple writing belies the sophisticated, well-observed presentation of the lives of ordinary folks who were, by and large,...more
Obinna Udenwe
Helon Habila has been able to tell a vivid but captivating story of life in the Nigerian prisons. life during the military rule in Nigeria. And Life in a society riddled with corruption.

The way the characters are introduced, their names which is a bit oriental and literal and the way the story is weaved makes me rate him best after Adichie.
Interconnected short stories revolving around a journalist living in Lagos under military rule. The first story, set during the journalist's prison sentence, is phenomenal. I was less impressed by the subsequent stories, but a couple of them were quite good, and I only really disliked one (the bland "The Angel").
Read and discussed with a small groups of High school students and an English teacher. Touching stories of the political awakiening of a teem ager in bloody Nigeria. The students were very perceptive.
Loreldonaghey Donaghey
So far this is excellent. I only stopped reading when I fell asleep on my pool floatie and dropped the book into the water. As soon as it dries out, I'll finish it.
it was interesting to find out through his writing what Nigeria was like during the military regime. i enjoyed the way he told the story.
9/10. I really enjoyed this book. The writing is delightful despite the difficult subject.
Jul 17, 2009 Jane added it
Recommended to Jane by: Loreldonaghey Donaghey
Lorel's right, this is a good book. I knew nothing about Nigeria in the 1990s.
The first part of the book is great - but it kind of falls apart after that.
Very powerful, very vivid. So painful that it was hard to read.
Mike Clinton
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Helon Habila was born in Nigeria in 1967. He studied literature at the University of Jos and taught at the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, before moving to Lagos to work as a journalist. In Lagos he wrote his first novel, Waiting for an Angel, which won the Caine Prize in 2001. Waiting for an Angel has been translated into many languages including Dutch, Italian, Swedish, and French.

In 2002 he moved...more
More about Helon Habila...
Measuring Time Oil on Water: A Novel The Granta Book of the African Short Story The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 NW14: The Anthology of New Writing

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“This was soul calling to soul. A tired, trapped lock at last meeting the key that unlocks it.” 0 likes
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