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I Do Not Come to You by Chance

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,184 Ratings  ·  209 Reviews
A deeply moving debut novel set amid the perilous world of Nigerian email scams, I Do Not Come to You by Chance tells the story of one young man and the family who loves him.

Being the opara of the family, Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain privileges--a piece of meat in his egusi soup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, he has responsibili
Paperback, 402 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
Edit Look what I got today! See below

An alternately amusing and serious book on the Nigerian scam of emails that promise you millions of dollars if only you help the poor man/widow/cancer victim get the money out of the country. But this is written from the point of view of a well-educated but relatively poor Nigerian lad who has responsibilities to support his family. Its a very light read, quite well written and with a cast of some very colourful and more-or-less-believable characters. Althoug
Dec 03, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I don't want to review the whole book, but I noticed looking through the reviews on here that several people commented on the writing style being strange/unappealing, full of weird adjectives and proverbs, etc. Rather than constituting "bad writing" on the author's part (although I understand how it can come across that way), I think it's worth noting that these are deliberate usages of West African-style English. I used to live in Ghana, and the narration style of the protagonist in "I Do Not C ...more
A gleeful and often hilarious carnival of cliché parades through these pages. Airline food is tasteless, parents are conservative, white women are patronising, school is where one learns 'the white man's wisdom', British people all have brown, misaligned teeth. About halfway through I realised I was reading a truly brilliant piece of satire, and it just got better and better (and more mercilessly irreverent) as it went along.

When Augustina is permitted to return to school for 'five more years of
Feb 09, 2010 THE rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having removed the splinters from my eyes, I can finally review this tree-destroying book with its wooden characters and torpid prose. Yes, I was disappointed in this first novel in terms of its inarticulate thematic development, stereotypical portrayals, and stultifying language.

I had hoped that a satire on the notorious Nigerian 419 Internet financial scams would be insightful or at least amusing. (The Washington Post had referred to it as "original and heartfelt" and the Christian Science Mo
Jan 01, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cheryl by: Petra X
This was exactly the type of world lit book I enjoy reading. It is set in Nigeria and written by a Nigerian, so it felt like I was reading the story from within, from that perspective. It disobeyed all the rules of how to write about Africa, set out in that tongue-in-cheek Granta article several years ago ( by Binyavanga Wainaina.

The story centres around a likeable fellow from an honest and hard-working family who highly value education. Despite getting h
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is one of those books that takes a grim situation and turns it into a fun and entertaining story: the background is poverty and corruption in Nigeria, but the book is the polar opposite of, say, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, which deals with similar themes; this one is quick and easy to read, exciting, and very nearly uplifting.

Kingsley is the oldest son of a family that values education above all else, but he's been unemployed for two years after graduating with a degree in chemical
Jan 15, 2011 Candice rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend
It takes talent to make sympathetic characters of adults who fleece others for a living. Nwaubani does it with skill and a strong sense of humor.

She makes no effort to “pretty up” Nigeria – as she's said herself in interviews, she's neither worried about Westerners who think everything Nigerian is 419 (ie, fraud) nor worried about the Nigerians obsessed with changing the impressions of the West. It's a brave stance – and perhaps a touch callous, since expat Nigerians deal daily with the negativ
This was such a great romp of a satire. I had never heard of the author and need to find out if she has written anything since this one because I must read more of her work!
Friederike Knabe
Aug 20, 2015 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, african-lit
At times hilarious, at times sad, mostly satirical, always vividly told... a very good read with food for thought on the Nigerian 419 scheme. The author gets under the skin of the 419 scheme, so to say, and explores how "good people" can get caught in the net of the schemers of this exploitative system. Nwaubani follows the struggle of one individual to free himself. He stands for many and any effort to succeed as a smaller keg in the system is difficult and dangerous. The author shines a stark ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure if I was enjoying the story at first, but eventually I was drawn in. Framed by a preface and epilogue from the mother's point of view, the bulk of the book is told by Kingsley, the oldest son in a Nigerian family. With his family facing financial hardship due to the state of the economy and his father's illness and death, Kingsley is taken under the wing of his uncle "Cash Daddy" to learn the business of internet scamming. He becomes a successful "419" man (named for the criminal c ...more
Jan 02, 2013 Angela rated it really liked it
I don't know what possessed me to read this book. It's a far cry from my usual fluffy paranormal/young adult literature, and not even the topic is something I would find interesting.

However, I'm glad it's my first book of the new year. I've heard of the Prince of Nigeria scams, and used to wonder how those people slept at night. Now...pfffft, if people are fool enough to fall for that kind of scam, let them be taken for what is asked of them. The writing style did take some adjustment, the langu
Oct 30, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
I found this book at the library and brought it home because ANZ LitLovers had recently read The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, partly set in Nigeria, but not written by a Nigerian. While I don’t subscribe to the view that only those of a certain culture may write about it, I did want to see what difference it might make…

It makes a lot of difference. I Do Not Come to You By Chance is Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s first novel, and it’s distinctively African in its theme and setting.
See http://anzlitlove
Jul 09, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, nigeria
In the tradition of Achebe's "No Longer At Ease," Nwaubani traces the path of Kingsley, a young university graduate in Nigeria whose parents have taught him the virtues of hard work and getting an education, but who is gradually drawn into the strange world of email fraud. A great read.
Mar 05, 2012 Marcy rated it it was amazing
Kingsley did not come to his uncle,"Cash Daddy's" way of life by chance.

Augustina and Paulinus were the highly educated parents of Kingsley and his brothers and sisters. Both parents could not keep up monetarily with the inflation of their country. They became poorer and poorer as the years passed. Their hopes and dreams were for their eldest son, Kingsley, to become well educated, and attain a well-paying job of his dreams so that he could ease the financial burden of his family. Kingsley rece
Aug 03, 2009 Joyce rated it it was amazing
I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani was a witty and moving account of an idealistic young man's involvement with the treacherous world of email scamming. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who wants an intelligent read that will literally have you laughing out loud and feeling emotionally invested in life of the conflicted protagonist.

I also learned about other aspects of Nigerian culture that are not regularly reported via mainstream media. I was drawn to the father's
Donal Phipps
May 17, 2011 Donal Phipps rated it it was ok
'Deeply moving' is not a phrase I would use to describe this novel.
Imagine submitting a plot to google translate, copying the translation and then re-submitting it. The garbled patois which results is akin to the writing style of this book. Open any page and you'll find an example. Most of my time reading this book was spent in frustration, trying not to trip over awkward English and the maddening spray-gun of proverbs in pretty much every line of character dialogue.

I gave 2 stars instead of 1
Aug 27, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing

After reading some of the other reviews of this book, I'm not sure they got the same impression I did. I thought the book was delightful and well written. Even more so because it is the young author's first work. Perhaps a Nigerian reader would get insulted by the portrait this book shows of their nation - it does paint a rather grim picture of a poverty- and corruption-ridden country where education is valued but then does the graduate no good. Kings, the protagonist, makes a decision to earn
Jun 08, 2015 Baljit rated it liked it
How interesting that something so ordinary, like Nigerian internet scams- can be the fodder behind this story! One cant help but cheer for Kingsley as he copes with his duties as opara- first-born son- amidst high expectations from his family, the loss of his father, the widespread corruption of the system and fluctuating naira. I simply love the Nigerian flavour in the book, the tougue-in-cheek euphemisms, lamentations from elderly and spicy food.
Jul 13, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
This is the second book by a Nigerian author that I’ve read this year, and although I’ve given it the same rating I issued Half of a Yellow Sun, this one has a completely different tone.

Set in modern Nigeria, this book follows Kingsley Ibe, a young village man, who wants to fulfill the responsibilities of oldest son and is encouraged to do so by his traditional parents, who think that education is still the way to a well-paying job. But rapid changes in modern society have altered “the rules” an
Asma Fedosia
Very good for a first novel. Entertaining read also attempting some deeper thought, i.e., what happens when life doesn't go according to plan? Should one live according to ideals or according to realities? Can a character do bad and good at the same time, i.e., are Uncle Boniface and Kings thieves or philanthropists? This novel begins shortly before cellular phone service and internet communication become widely available in Nigeria. Many university graduates are found in this novel, but opportu ...more
Dec 25, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
I read this book voraciously. It's sad and funny at the same time, and the character of Kingsley, the narrator voice, shows depth, darkness and light, reflection and action. He reminds me a little of the godfather played by Al Pacino. 'Yes, I deal in crime, but I'm doing it for the good of others'. I think what this book brought home to me is the relativity of all our lives and values in the face of utmost poverty. Who can judge without being judged? Who can be sure of what is right and what is ...more
Ngozichi Omekara
May 06, 2012 Ngozichi Omekara rated it really liked it
Ms Nwaubani is a funny story teller, she writes about a very serious topic punctuated with a lot of anecdote. a book that weaves within it the culture and expectations of the Igbo ethnic group from their sons and daughters, especially firstborns.
Her choice of words, and the way she composed her sentences evoked not only strong imagery but raucous guffaws, on every chapter.
As i read, being a firstborn myself and a descendant of the Igbo ethnic group, i could feel the pain, and great responsibilit
Nov 16, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
The reason that I picked out this book to read was that I was curious about the culture behind the scam e-mails that come from Nigeria and other places. Why do people
get into that kind of wheeling, dealing and deceiving ? Do they have any conscience? Is there a big network of them? Along with the answers to those questions, I learned about the Nigerian family, wedding customs and burial customs. I followed Kingsley, a son of poor but well educated parents from college. Witnessed his desperation
Alison Lang
Oct 02, 2012 Alison Lang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We've all had the emails, recognised them for what they are and deleted them within seconds, and these days most spam filters are wise to the scammers before their unfeasible promises of USD millions locked up in African bureaucracy even present their patently fabricated credentials. But what of the writers of these outrageous fictions? I do not come to you by chance takes us along the path of corruption trod, unwillingly at first, by Kingsley, unemployed graduate and eldest son of a struggling ...more
Kiera Healy
May 15, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it it was amazing
I Do Not Come to You by Chance (what a mouthful! And not the best title, for me anyway - it made me think at first of a cheesy romance) is a contemporary Nigerian satire of 419ers: those scammers we're all familiar with, who promise us 20% of their US$60,000,000 fortune if only we can help them get it out of the country. When I get one of those emails (and I've started getting them in my Goodreads mailbox, which really adds to that air of legitimacy, right?), I laugh, delete and move on. I'd nev ...more
Oct 27, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once I finished this book, I kind of wondered what other readers thought. I read through some of the other reviews here, some of which were super funny. "Garbled patois"? "Torpid prose"? Get a hold of yourself, people. I agree that the writing is less than perfect, but it also added a bit of feeling and flavor. Was the story factually accurate? Probably not, but I don't think accuracy was the goal. It is fiction! If you can read a novel set in Nigeria (a country that most Americans are not all t ...more
Jun 25, 2011 Patricia rated it liked it
I get a lot of Nigerian scam e-mails, so I ordered this book on a whim. It is written as the life of a Nigerian scammer, who starts out entirely respectable, with a degree in Chemical Engineering. After a couple years seeking a job with the oil companies in Nigeria, and after suffering the death of his father (reading about the Nigerian hospital experience is an eye-opener), the main character goes to work for his very rich and highly disreputable uncle, as a '419', the code name for Nigerian sc ...more
Aug 26, 2011 Jane rated it did not like it
I thought this book was rubbish!!!
It is not a true representation of the Nigeria I know. It also did not give any insight into the world of advanced fee fraud (aka 419). Kingsley was a moron ( i highly question his supposed first class degree), and the character "Cash Daddy" was too much of everything that was wrong with the book. The idea of him running for governor was so unbelievable that it gave me a headache. As an indigene of that part of Nigeria, I feel the author owes us all an apology f
John Pappas
Jun 04, 2014 John Pappas rated it really liked it
Humorous and moving tale of a young Nigerian man who becomes entrenched in the seedy world of 419 email scams. While initially able to rationalize his fraudulent acquisition of millions, Kingsley finds himself conflicted when reminded that his mother is ashamed of his behavior and that his recently deceased father would be heartbroken. Kingsley's plight may be analogous to Nigeria's current situation: In the shifting sands of economic globalization, foreign investment agendas and new technology, ...more
Dec 29, 2009 Liz rated it liked it
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Adaobi Tricia Obinne Nwaubani (born in 1976) is a Nigerian novelist, humorist, essayist and journalist. Her debut novel, I Do Not Come to you by Chance, won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (Africa), a Betty Trask First Book award,and was named by the Washington Post as one of the Best Books of 2009. Nwaubani is the first contemporary African writer on the global stage to h ...more
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“Good mothers know all about patience. They know about lugging the promise of a baby around for nine whole months, about the effort of pushing and puffing until a head pops; they know about being pinned to a spot, wincing as gums make contact with sore nipples; they know about keeping a vigil over a cot all night, praying that the doctor's medicine will work; they know that even when patience seems to be at an end, more is required. Always more.” 7 likes
“I always find it funny when people say that money makes people proud. If you check it, poor people are some of the proudest people in this world.” 1 likes
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