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I Do Not Come to You by Chance

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  918 ratings  ·  177 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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Things Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Gods Are Not to Blame by Ola RotimiHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe Lion and the Jewel by Wole SoyinkaThe Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
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11th out of 118 books — 55 voters
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African Fiction
44th out of 244 books — 208 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,179)
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Petra X smokin' hot
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Donal Phipps
'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
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
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
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
Ngozichi Omekara
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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my people are great storytellers...the eloquence of all that is nigeria shines through in the prose and personal lives of this very realisic tale. there were so many truisms that is had to not think of kingsley ibe as flesh and bone. as a first born child i understand the pressure he feels as being opara. the difficult choices he has to make....morality....negotiating a conscience...siezing opportunity in the name of filial your self ...more
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
Nigeria: a young man’s father dies, leaving him responsible for the family. He went to university, but does not manage to get a job. All of the sudden, an uncle appears and offers him an easy job with the prospect of lots of money. Although he knows that what the uncle does is - although not illegal, for sue morally wrong, he agrees and is soon introduced to the business of the “419ers”. They write spam emails to rich Westerners and ask for money (of course seemingly offering large sums) - and o ...more
Chemaine Myers
Oh my, use to see those type of emails all the time but just ignore them. Once I did reply with a very sarcastic remark but did not received any reply.
This book however gave me an insight into the 419er's world. I did not even knew they had a name as 419 but after I read it and spoke with a few african friends, they clarify that up for me real fast.
Main character really annoyed me at times but I could not figure out why; especially when his girlfriend and mother started to act really funny to h
Paul Zerby
This is a beautifully written, funny and sad debut novel by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani a young Nigerian writer. Through her protagonist Kingsley she shows us much about Nigeria, coming of age, the lure of money and ultimately, not only the differences between Nigerian culture and American, but, sometimes uncomfortably, the similarities. Although a very different book from Things Fall Apart, Nwaubani's sentences and cadences evoke her distinguished countryman's prose. I recommend it.
I love reading about characters I am familiar with hence the two stars. On the other hand, I was disappointed, especially after the rave reviews that have been following the book. It ended bland, and I'm still trying to figure out what exactly the book was about. It started very well, its saddening that it wasn't sustainable. The book was, as we say in Nigeria to convey a feeling of 'ordinaryness' of exasperation.. the book was 'just there'
Njenva Heimi
I enjoyed reading this book. It had hilarious similies and sayings that I guess would be used in conversational English in Nigeria. The book shows how we human beings are driven by greed to reap where we haven't sown; whether one is a 419-er looking for a mugu or a mugu who is looking to gain where there have been minimum investments. I laughed out loud several times and I am looking forward to reading the book again.
First good book I have read in awhile! The author is Nigerian and this is her first book. She lets you see into the business of Nigerian email scams and those involved and it is fascinating. She tackles different moral/ethical issues from several angles and it definitely made me think. The ending surprised me. Wish I knew someone else who read it so I could discuss it with them!
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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.” 5 likes
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