Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin | 17 November 2012 | 4,795 times
A fictional work that explores the ‘419’ phenomenon associated with Nigeria has won an international award.
Simply entitled ‘419’ the novel by Canadian humorist and travel writer Will Ferguson has bagged Canada’s most prestigious and lucrative award, the Giller prize, along with a cash reward of 50k dollars. The novel further opens the window of the world to internet fraud by some Nigerians who have through their activities brought Africa’s most populous country much international odium. 419 is a section in Nigeria’s penal code which criminalises fraud or obtaining by tricks.
Various international media sources report that the judges praised Ferguson’s docu-drama style novel on 419 for being a master at dialogue and suspense. “It is a novel emotionally and physically at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America,” the judges said.
In his acceptance speech Ferguson (see photo) praised the written word.
“I would like to thank my long suffering editor for supporting my possibly ill-advised shift to fiction,” he said.
The story of the novel follows a Canadian Editor from Calgary to Lagos on a vendetta mission in search of fraudsters who liquidated her father, making him commit suicide in frustration.
Ferguson’s effort represents the latest in a growing body of fictional and non-fictional works on internet scams of Nigerian origin. Others include Tracy Morgan’s hit comedy ‘Freshman Roommate’.
Despite the kudos he’s received for ‘419’, Ferguson he not ready to limit himself to one type of writing either.
“If a funny story grabs you, it grabs you. If travel grabs you, it grabs you,” he said, noting that his next book will be a travel narrative about Rwanda, Burundi and potentially eastern Congo.
“I try to switch between fiction and travel. It uses different parts of your brain. No, I’m not giving up on travel writing, but I’m certainly enjoying fiction,” he stated.
Along with the $50,000 cash prize, Ferguson will likely see a healthy sales boost for ‘419’ — a post-prize bump dubbed “the Giller effect.”
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