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Nigerians in Space

(Nigerians in Space #1)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  378 ratings  ·  74 reviews
1993. Houston. Dr. Wale Olufunmi, lunar rock geologist, has a life most Nigerian immigrants would kill for, but then most Nigerians aren’t Wale—-a great scientific mind in exile with galactic ambitions. Then comes an outlandish order: steal a piece of the moon. With both personal and national glory at stake, Wale manages to pull off the near impossible, setting out on a jo ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published February 1st 2014 by The Unnamed Press (first published February 15th 2013)
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Althea Ann
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I asked the library if they had this book after reading Olukotun's 'We Are The Olfanauts' ( and they decided to buy it just for me! So, you should go request it from the NYPL so it doesn't turn out to just have been for me!

The novel is even better than the (unrelated) short story. It's in that interstitial literary arena where it's almost-but-not-quite science fiction, but is definitely fiction that will be appreciated by science fiction fans.

Dr. Wale Ol
I loved it. A different kind of book for me. It was a suspense/thriller. I found this on goodreads giveaways. I didn't win, but I found myself intrigued and had to read it. It did not disappoint. The book was well written, action packed, odd (in a good way) and unpredictable. Most of the action does not take place in the US so it was an introduction to a world stage (though primarily in South Africa). The plot was *no spoilers* a Nigerian official was wooing Nigerian scientists back to Nigeria f ...more
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the first chapter I wasn't sure if this was fiction or a very entertainingly written history, a la The Devil in the White City. Turns out it's fiction, but my confusion stemmed from the fact that Olukotum's prose is incredibly authoritative. He thoroughly delivered me into the world of his novel without sacrificing tension or pacing.

The story revolves around an ill-fated attempt by a silver-tongued politico to reverse the brain drain in Nigeria and kickstart a "brain gain" by repatriating s
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, 2015
Scientists are lured back home in a ‘brain gain’ plan to start up Nigerian space program. But, things go awry. Is it legit, a scam, or something more sinister?

Well-told, interweaving stories that not only explore various issues including nationality, exile, political machinations, dreams vs. reality, aspirations, generational impact of actions, scams, criminal activity, national pride, etc..., but also move between 1993 and the present.

There are repeated references to the power & history of Yoru
Elle (ellexamines)
Dec 22, 2019 marked it as zzzzz-did-not-finish
A very interesting sci-fi thriller. I think this simply switches between point of view more than I wanted.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I’ve recently read the 2014 book Nigerians in Space by Deji Bryce Olukotun, and I’ve come out the other side baffled and unsettled. I don’t understand why this book has received the praise it’s gotten. While the core premise around which Olukotun builds his narrative may be promising, that premise is hardly explored and is almost entirely obscured by unrelatable and unlikable characters and bad writing.

I don’t think there’s a lot of value in delving more deeply into the “bad writing” claim. I th
Phil Jensen
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
What is this book about?

It's easy to say what it's not about. It's not about a group of Nigerians on a spaceship. It's not even exactly about a Nigerian space program. It's about something else... but what?

The book concerns two generations of people, most of them emigrant Nigerians. Apparently, this is a thing. If, like me, you are not already aware of the Nigerian Brain Drain, then this might be a tricky book to comprehend. Apparently, the best and brightest in Nigeria have often had to go abro
Nigerians in Space may very well be the best fiction book I will have read in 2014. I find myself reading more non-fiction these days, afraid of the frequent disappointment with new fiction, but I am glad that I won Nigerians in Space in the Goodreads First Reads (thanks!) giveaway.

I could describe the book in terms of the plot (the events set off by a Nigerian official promising a scientific leap in the home country to successful Nigerian scientists who live abroad), story (the emotional strugg
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
A funny, strange yet fascinating first novel (by an author whose family I know, I must admit.) The characters - from South Africa, Nigeria, USA - are very well drawn, some very amusing, some frightening. The story line begins with the premise that (contrary to our view of Nigerians being involved in scams - the infamous 419s) there are well-educated Nigerians, even or especially scientists. Dr Wale Olufunmi, who begins the novel as a respected geologist working at a university in Texas, ends the ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fun book to read immediately after coming back from a trip to Cape Town; I think I had a lot more context and understood the characters-- especially Thursday--on a level that I would not have even 2 months ago. I think the fact that the author later "met his protagonist" adds a level of authenticity, and I found the book compelling even if the last third was a bit far-fetched and, if I'm being blunt, sloppy.

I think if anything reading this just makes me increasingly excited about fic
Sarah B
I'm having a hard time writing my review of this book. I'm not sure what to think about it. At first because of the title I thought it would be science fiction but clearly it's not. Then while reading I thought it was more of a mystery but I don't think it's a mystery either...I guess it's just plain fiction. I did find it very interesting while reading and I flew through the pages. But I still feel very muddled about what the book is, how to classify it. I guess each person who reads it has to ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, review-books, ebook
When I said yes to a review copy of NIGERIANS IN SPACE, I will admit that it was partly the title. The opening line of the blurb didn't hurt either. Starting to read it, from about chapter 2 I was totally bamboozled, and firmly hooked. (Although I was mildly disappointed that the piece of the moon stolen was pilfered from a laboratory ... for a while I hoped....)

With a story that quickly moves from the early 90's to the present, this is a very smooth, slightly mad debut novel which bodes particu
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure what to expect from this book, but I ended up really loving it. It had the pace and content of a crime thriller, but was unlike any other I've read. It's set in Africa, both Nigeria, but also more South Africa and the subjects, characters and scenes are completely unique. I found myself almost missing my subway stop on the way to work because I could not put it down. I can't wait until they make it into a movie... ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been describing this book as a "spy" novel, but it's really just fantastic fun and perfectly weird read that I highly recommend. ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nigerians in Space is Olukotun's first novel and I hope he has another in the works because this one grabbed my interest from start to finish. The title sounds as if it might be science fiction but it is a crime thriller—with maybe a touch of mysticism—set primarily in Cape Town, South Africa. The story moves between 1993/94 and the present.

In 1993, a glib Nigerian government official named Bello makes an offer to Nigerian scientists working around the world. Come back to Nigeria, invest your kn
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, sf-fantasy, 2018
Despite the title, there is not much about ‘Nigerians’ nor ‘Space’ here, apart from a rather rushed coda in Abuja. This starts out as some kind of a Dan Brown thriller, focused mainly on abalone smuggling in Cape Town, with an aside about moon-rock theft in Houston in the US … and then it mysteriously devolves into some kind of a magic realist novel based on a rather unique treatment of race (cue the moonlight). What is it about Nigeria and magic realism / Lovecraftian fantasy? (Nnedi Okorafor a ...more
Sasha  Wolf
Poignant but confusing

I found the four main characters interesting and the writing evocative, but the constant changes in perspective from character to character and from past to present left me struggling to follow the plot. I didn't feel this novel fulfilled the promise of exploring the idea of home, which left me feeling disappointed overall.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Maybe I read it too fast (the second half, anyway); maybe it's the magical realism towards the end, but I found it just a little confusing, there. Will have to think about it. ...more
John Defrog
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Debut novel from Deji Bryce Olukotun that isn’t quite what it seems at first glance. I found this in the science-fiction section of the bookstore, and the blurb suggests that it’s a fictional story about Nigeria attempting to kick off a space-flight program. In reality, it’s more of an international thriller with a few scientific elements. The narrative hops back and forth between 1993 and present day, following lunar geologist Wale Olufunmi, who steals a moon sample from NASA as a sign of commi ...more
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received Nigerians in Space as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Bouncing back and forth between the early 1990s and the present day, Nigerians in Space centers on Wale, a lunar geologist, as he steals a piece of moon rock from his employer (NASA) and returns to his homeland as part of a mysterious "Brain Gain" movement designed to attract Nigerian expatriate talent back to the home country. We also follow the fates of Wale's son as a young adult, ambivalent abalone poacher Thursday, and Melissa, a
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
This story had so much potential and I honestly got very excited about it from reading its first few pages. However, as a Nigerian, I discovered that there was a lack of research about some details in this book.

The jumps in time were unnecessary, Melle's skin transformation incredulous, her meeting with Tinuke loosely tied, and Wale's kidnapping action and divorce unresolved.

Furthermore, Melissa's death (or something of that sort), Thursday's behaviour, and the whole ending just felt completely
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
As a South African, I was perplexed at why some words (i.e. braii as opposed to braai - there were others but can't just now recall what they are) were spelled incorrectly. Not without meaning, anyway. If it was because the words were "seen" through the eyes of a foreign national? That was not obvious enough, nor did it justify itself. I agree with some of the other reviews that there was a lack of embodied character development and an almost biased portrayal of women (there were no strong or ev ...more
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-read
This books starts out really well but quickly falls down. The constant shifts in time for absolutely no reason infuriated me. It's a real shame as the story had real potential. ...more
Lorraine Lipman
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
After a strong start this book was a disappointment . Too many jumps in time, and a rushed and fumbled conclusion. Had it not been a book club read I doubt if I would have finished it.
The Coat
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Great read, some aspects of plot a little loose but loved the writing and the content
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting read. I was confused by some of it. I wish that I liked it as much, as some of the other reviewers.
Mal Warwick
Deji Bryce Olukotun writes science fiction stories, and his second book was a dystopian novel. So, perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking that his first book, Nigerians in Space, would be a science fiction novel. Especially since it opens at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Alas, this is no science fiction novel. In fact, it's difficult to categorize it in any way at all.

Nigerians in space?
If anything, Nigerians in Space revolves around the theme of corruption in Nigeria. The central figure,
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was promised Nigerians in space, and instead, I got three interwoven stories, one of which was about a lunar geologist who really wants to go to space but instead spends most of his time in an observatory trying not to get killed after being scammed - maybe - as part of a "Brain Gain" program to lure Nigeria's best scientists back to the country to revitalize the nation. But no Nigerians in space.

I don't even know what to say about this book besides that I really enjoyed it, besides the fact
Stanley Trice
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: speculative
This is about bringing all the smart people who left Nigeria back to their country to launch a rocket to the moon. In 1993, Nurudeen Bello is supposed to be a government official put in charge of Brain Gain, which identifies the scientists to bring back home. But, before the scientists can get to Nigeria, someone starts to kill them.

Wale Olufunmi makes it almost to Nigeria. He is a geologist studying Apollo era moon rocks in Houston, TX. He steals some moon dust that came back from Apollo 11 to
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wale Olufunmi is just a regular guy: he loves baseball, he loves the moon, he works hard, has friends. One day, though he's offered an amazing possibility: come home -- to Nigeria -- and build his country to greatness. Build a space program. Go to the moon. No such opportunity will ever present itself here in the U.S., and besides, it's time for Nigeria to initiate its Brain Gain and bring its sons and daughters home to lead the world.

He will be provided with travel papers, money, all the suppor
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Literary Fiction ...: Discussion: Nigerians in Space 67 130 Jul 03, 2018 01:11PM  

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