I Do Not Come To You By Chance – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2010, Best First Book: Africa.
The short list for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize was announced last month and I was immediately drawn towards this book which centres on the world of a Nigerian email scammer. I am really pleased that I impulsively read this book, as I found it fascinating.
I Do Not Come to You by Chance follows Kingsley, a young Nigerian man who has a good education and a promising career ahead of him. His world is shattered when his father becomes ill and the family is unable to afford the treatment needed to save his life. Desperate to help his father, Kingsley turns to his mysteriously wealthy uncle and gets drawn in to the bizarre world of the email scammer:
At first, it was difficult. Composing cock-and-bull tales, with every single word an untruth, including ‘is’ and ‘was’. Blasting SOS emails around the world, hoping that someone would swallow the bait and respond. But I was probably worrying myself for nothing. They were just a bunch of email addresses with no real people at the other end anyway. Besides, who on this earth was stupid enough to fall prey to an email from a stranger in Nigeria?
The plot was quite simple and the writing wasn’t particularly beautiful, but the insight into the life of an email scammer had me hooked. I was fascinated by their activities – continually amazed by what they managed to get away with. I’d love to know how many of the events in this book had actually occurred. This is one of those books that I was telling everyone about, unable to believe that people actually respond to those dodgy emails we all get.
This book also had a very African feel to it. I loved the snippets of African mythology, all presented in a way that was easy for me to understand. It also raised some thought provoking questions, mainly revolving around whether or not it is OK to steal from the gullible rich, to give to the poorest in society.
Overall this was an amusing, insightful and ultimately uplifting tale about an underground world I previously knew nothing about.