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. Then her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was murdered there, and she didn’t return for 10 years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father loved.
She travelled from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the empty Transwonderland Amusement Park. Looking for Transwonderland is an engaging portrait of a country whose beauty and variety few of us will experience, depicted with wit and insight by a refreshing new voice in contemporary travel writing.
Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and raised in England. She attended King’s College London and Columbia University in New York.
Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria (Granta, 2012) is her first book. It was selected as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in 2012, and was named The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year, 2012. Shortlisted for the Author’s Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award in 2013, Looking for Transwonderland was also nominated by The Financial Times as one of the best travel books of 2012. The Guardian newspaper included it among its 10 Best Contemporary Books on Africa in 2012.
It has been translated into French and will be published in Italian in 2015.
Noo has previously written travel guides for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. She supports Liverpool FC and is based in the UK.
“What Noo Saro-Wiwa illuminates in her compelling account of a five-month journey around the land of her birth is how it feels to be a Nigerian today, getting by in a country that sometimes seems as though it had been designed to thwart initiative, subvert integrity and madden its 160m inhabitants … The author s strength is that, although her patience is worn thin by all the scamming, scheming and privation, she never reaches the end of her tether. Instead, her anger dissolves into solidarity with a people she knew hitherto only from dreaded childhood holidays”-Financial Times
“It would be easy to focus on the colourful insanity that is Africa s most populous nation. But Ms Saro-Wiwa is careful to avoid caricature. Curious, she travels out of Lagos to corners of the country many Nigerians never see …. Along the way, she allows herself to be surprised by kindness and humour, making new friends who open her eyes to the passion, wit and ingenuity of her homeland”-Economist
“This is an affectionate portrait of a loud and lively nation with infuriating potential”-Metro
“Saro-Wiwa is sharp and funny, both frustrated and charmed by Nigeria … She may not make you rush out to book a flight to Lagos, but she certainly brings a new perspective to Africa s most populous country”-Prospect
“The dominant tone of this book is one of humour and affection … Saro-Wiwa s insider/outsider view of Nigeria makes intriguing reading. She is fiercely honest and compassionate about a county most tourists travel miles to avoid. Her father was hanged for speaking his mind; we should be thankful his fearless daughter will not be deterred from speaking hers”-Sunday Telegraph”
“Nigeria does not top many people’s lists of the ideal holiday destination … So all the more praise to travel writer Noo Saro-Wiwa for producing such an affectionate and irreverent guide to a place so far from the beaten tourist track … in her gentle style, she peels away many of the clichés that envelop Nigeria and reveals both the beauty and brutality of this slumbering superpower”-Observer”
“Noo Saro-Wiwa s double advantage is to understand personally the mindset of Nigerians as a distinct ethnicity while reporting back to us as an acculturated Westerner … she writes with a candid humour that sharply colours the pains and pleasures of homecoming”-The Times
“Her gifts lie in her keen eye for the sights, sounds, souls and insanities of contemporary Nigeria, and in her ability to recreate these. The book is a breathless chronicle of diversity … Her encounters are at once full of pathos and brightness” – Independent
“Noo Saro-Wiwa s exceptional story lends an interesting weight to Looking for Transwonderland, as she begins to rediscover the place she used to call home … her vivid portraits of Nigerian life are intelligent and often very witty … she offers a bright and honest account of Nigeria, a mad melting-pot that few travellers, especially those in her position, are willing to take on” — Traveller
“Hands up those of you who are planning to go to Nigeria on your next trip. Me neither … But after reading Looking for Transwonderland I m thinking of changing my plans … As she travels through the country Saro-Wiwa is won over by the tolerance, humour and resilience of Nigerians” –Wanderlust
Praise for “Looking for Transwonderland”
“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 she tours the country and gets to know people from its many ethnic groups, she gains a better understanding of and appreciation for Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa is a sharp and insightful guide, giving readers an intimate look at the varied regions that comprise this fascinating country.” –“Booklist” (Starred)
“The author allows her love-hate relationship with Nigeria to flavor this thoughtful travel journal, lending it irony, wit and frankness.” –“Kirkus”
About the Author
NOO SARO-WIWA was born in Nigeria in 1976 and raised in England. She attended King’s College London and Columbia University in New York and has written travel guides for Rough Guide and Lonely Planet. She currently lives in London.
What You Need to Do Now
Buy the Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria By Noo Saro-Wiwa now from Amazon.