419 by Will Ferguson

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An elderly man drives off of a bridge.

A young man swindles a faceless person out of hundreds and thousands of a dollars.

A country is ravaged by oil greedy humans.

I’ve read my fair share of novels over the years and so I don’t say this lightly but this book got to me in a way that no other book has before. A few days after beginning the novel I found myself checking the news. At first I couldn’t figure out what I was looking for and then I realized that I was looking for 419.

419 is a real term used to describe an Internet scam where individuals, in this case from Nigeria, would contact people in America and other countries saying that they are a refugee in need of assistance, the daughter of an assassinated political figure in need of help or something else along these lines. The individuals in Nigeria would then go on to say that they have a large sum of money they are willing to transfer over if the person will just help them. In the end, there is no large sum of money and instead the person is swindled out of hundreds and thousands of dollars.

In the novel, Laura Curtis is devastated to learn that before his death her father had been a victim of 419. He sent all of his money to Nigeria thinking that he was saving a young woman from an awful fate but instead his money and everything he held dear was taken away. Now, with the house in foreclosure and the weight of her fathers death on her shoulders, Laura embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about 419 and the people who stole her fathers life.

The story weaves in and out between Laura’s perspective and that of a young man and woman in Nigeria. The author does a stunning job of bringing the characters together and tying in the different aspects of the 419 scheme, the turmoil in Nigeria and the individual struggle to be something, someone, anyone.

What struck me the most about this book was the level of detail. The author, although he has never actually been to Nigeria, does a phenomenal job describing the living conditions, the people and the food. At times I felt I could see the marketplace stands, smell the oil burning on the river, see the feral children digging for treasure.

This novel is amazing in so many ways and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a deep, meaningful read.

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6 thoughts on “419 by Will Ferguson

  1. I’m glad you liked it! I have heard others criticize it (I think for the writing style), but I’m with you- I loved it. And, I was impressed with the author’s ability to write something so heavy and serious after all his funny books. Have you read anything else by Ferguson?

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