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Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  583 Ratings  ·  91 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 terms
Paperback, 311 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Granta Books
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Petra X
Memoir meets travelogue meets popculture. It's ok, nothing memorable. The only thing I really got from this book was that the general fraudulency and crookedness of Nigeria where the begging letter scam is a whole semi-legitimate business 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 whatever it is like now it's going to get bloodier and as always with any of these recent Islamic mov ...more
Nov 04, 2015 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
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
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
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
Apr 02, 2013 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
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
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Puoi trovare questa recensione anche sul mio blog, La siepe di more

La prima cose che mi sento di scrivere su questo libro è che Noo Saro-Wiwa è una donna molto intelligente, che, nonostante non abbia ricordi molto positivi del suo Paese d’origine, la Nigeria, riesce a mantenere uno sguardo critico scevro da qualunque rancore e risentimento. Il punto di vista di Saro-Wiwa è acuto e questo fa di In cerca di Transwonderland un preziosissimo libro sulla Nigeria.

La seconda cosa è che Saro-Wiwa non è
Mark Staniforth
Jan 25, 2012 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
Apr 20, 2013 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
Mary Case
Aug 19, 2013 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
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
interesting and sometimes funny travelogue of the daughter of ken saro-wiwa as she remembers her childhood memories whilst visiting modern day nigeria
Alison Hardtmann
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book

Noo Saro-Wiwa is the daughter of human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was murdered by the Nigerian government as part of their efforts to keep Shell Oil Company happy. Sara-Wiwa grew up in Britain, but spent her summers in Nigeria until her father's burial, at which point she never returned. Now, decades later, she returns to travel all over the enormous (much larger than Texas) and diverse country. Looking for Transwonderland is her account of her travels.

Saro-Wiwa is the ideal traveling c
Jul 07, 2012 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 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A really interesting portrait of and travelogue about Nigeria, made all the more interesting by the fact that the author, Noo Saro-Wiwa is herself Nigerian, but grew up in England and then stopped going back to the country all together after the murder of her activist father. This is by no means a memoir. Saro-Wiwa's does occasionally dip into her own and her family's personal history, but always maintains a certain distance from events in her past and doesn't delve too much into her own emotion ...more
Jan 13, 2012 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
Mar 26, 2013 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 17, 2014 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
Mar 06, 2013 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.
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Saro-Wiwa is not a spectacular writer but she is a great travelling companion and when she comes to the end of her strange journey you want her to just keep on writing about wherever she goes next. I do wish there had been a map included, here's a good one if you want to see where she went:
Barbie N
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written view of Nigeria

A great view of the complex country of Nigeria. Sari is Nigerian, but she's also not, having grown up in England. This gives her a wonderfully unique and honest perspective, one that westerners can grasp. Her writing is outstanding. I highly recommend this book!
Wendy Lavery
Sep 21, 2012 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.
Jennifer Stoy
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Oh, this was a fantastic book. I liked the conversational tone and the stream-of-consciousness way that Saro-Wiwa worked through all the deeper themes of her return to Nigeria. And the breadth of issues covered is dizzying. Not only is this a travel narrative that gives a pretty broad look into the various features of Nigeria, it covers that Nigeria is a hugely diverse country where hundreds of ethnicities/tribes/backgrounds are subsumed into "Nigerian". So for example, you can read Chimamanda A ...more
Daphne Lee
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review first appeared on my book blog (https://reviewsviewsinterviews.wordpr...) on 31st Oct, 2016.

I’m planning to move to Lagos in Nigeria sometime in the next year, and while I’ve read several works of fiction which have Lagos as a setting or partial-setting, I thought I would try to find some travelogues (the sort of travel lit written by the likes of Paul Theroux and Colin Thubron) about Nigeria/Lagos.

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much out there in terms of modern (preferably 21st cen
Michela Lanza
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Noo Saro-Wiwa brought me back to a place I left only few months ago.
In her words I've found many of the esperiences I lived but also many which, as a foreigner, I could only imagine.
Her journey through Nigeria allows the reader to discover a country with an incredible diversity in ethnicity, ecosystems and tradition, but also with singular communal traits.
It's a country hard to love, but impossible to hate and Saro-Wiwa's word express it perfectly.
I've found a date error ( Miss World pageant too
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent travelogue and memoir. She is an engaging and thoughtful writer and I enjoyed reading about her journey to make a kind of peace with her homeland and heritage. Her martyred father is her shadow companion through a wide ranging five month journey throughout Nigeria. So many interesting threads to her story. Very eye opening and compeling.
T P Kennedy
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
An engaging mix of travelogue and biographical essay. It's light, smart and wickedly well observed. It leaves the reader with a clear understanding of Nigerian life and an earnest desire never to visit.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jun 11, 2013 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
Aug 29, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
Editorial Reviews
From Booklist
*Starred Review* The daughter of slain Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa revisits her homeland as an adult in this absorbing tour of that complex African country. As a child, Saro-Wiwa resented being pulled from her life in London to be shuttled off to Nigeria with her family. Now she devotes several months to getting to know the country as an adult. She begins her journey in Lagos, staying with a family friend and braving perilous public transportation to visit the h
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