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Doing Dangerously Well [Hardcover]

Carole Enahoro
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 11 2010
A dark comedy about disaster capitalism, cutthroat office politics, vicious sibling rivalry, hapless do-gooderism and the corporatization of water.

When a humanitarian catastrophe strikes Nigeria, an unforgettable cast of Machiavellian opportunists and quixotic do-gooders swoop in to make the most of the tragedy.


Some time in the near future, Kainji Dam, the engineering marvel that is the pride of Nigeria, collapses, killing thousands of villagers. The Minister of Natural Resources can hardly believe his luck - now he can make a bid for the presidency. On the other side of the world, the grimly ambitious executive of a water company also sniffs an opportunity - to make her bosses happy by privatizing a major African river. Her sister, Barbara, who has never encountered a cause she wouldn't carry a placard for, joins forces with Femi Jegede, a charismatic Nigerian activist whose family was swept away in the disaster. The result: a wickedly satirical romp along a road to hell paved with both good and bad intentions. Brazen, hilarious and sublimely written, Carole Enahoro's debut novel is simply dazzling.

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Review

“Brisk, cinematic prose. . . . Enahoro excels at description.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
 
Doing Dangerously Well is a hilarious mix of satire, political intrigue and environmental mismanagement. . . . A vibrant international story that is satirical, funny and brave.”
— The Chronicle Herald
 
“Satire presents some serious perils, but first-time novelist Carole Enahoro navigates them with considerable skill. . . . Enahoro tells the story with gusto. . . . Doing Dangerously Well features fascinatingly rich characters. . . . This is a writer to watch.”
— NOW (Toronto)

“Reading Carole Enahoro’s work is like encountering a tree dripping with fruit — one is taken aback by the richness of what she creates. She is both generous and riveting.”
— Douglas Coupland

About the Author

Carole Enahoro was born in London of a Nigerian father and an English mother, and grew up in Nigeria, Britain and Canada, and still shares her time among the three. With a background in art history and film, she has worked as a filmmaker, journalist and lecturer, while pursuing an abiding interest in political and social issues. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in the UK researching spatial practice, power and satire in Nigeria's capital. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this book July 21 2011
By bookbug
Format:Hardcover
This is not at all my usual kind of book. And yet, once I started reading Doing Dangerously Well, I couldn't put it down.

It is a satire about the influence of large corporations. It's about water. Terrible things happen in this book. It all sounds ponderous, but it's not. The author makes the story come alive with fascinating, larger-than-life characters and plot twists that will keep you turning the pages to find out what comes next. I cried and I laughed out loud, and it's been some time since a book made me do either.

The story takes place across different countries--Canada, the United States and America. All are well drawn enough to be characters in their own right. Seeing these places through the eyes of the characters who inhabit them (and those who are only visiting and are shocked by the strange customs found in a place like "Ottawa") brings them to life. Carole Enahoro also plays with the rhythms and types of speech in each location. Her dialogue is wonderfully rich and real.

I read this book some time ago, and the characters are still with me. There are scenes that will shock and horrify you. The beginning comes to mind; the Kanji dam bursts, killing a million people. And there are scenes where the human warmth in the eccentric characters will leave you hopeful that there is good in us after all.

Read it to change your thoughts on big industry and the privatization of water. Read it for the beautiful writing. Read it for the comedy. Read it for the strange, compelling characters. This is a book you don't want to miss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Frightening & Fabulous Aug. 21 2012
Format:Hardcover
"Doing Dangerously Well" is more than amusing satire -- it is a Bellwether, a contemporary canary in the mine, tweeting like mad about what can and will happen if we do not pay attention to how water has become an industry. Enahoro nudges us with her brilliant characters; their flaws are engaging and draw us to them. And such a cast of characters we have to enjoy here. Multinational, multitasking and multi-needy.

It would be easy to dismiss this a funny romp of a read with blistering dialogue and pithy observations of earnest do-gooders, global megalomaniacs and corporate climbers. But there is far more going on here. Smart -- and at time smarting -- this is well-paced and well-written novel that holds up for us a mirror. If we are brave enough to keep our eyes open, Carole Enahoro offers us a glimpse into our difficult future.

A brilliant writer with a confident hand throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious satire on multinationals Aug. 3 2011
By Flick
Format:Paperback
It is a book like this that gives meaning to the Commonwealth Prize: smart, complex and daring. The writer shows that huge decisions are made in small worlds operating on a multi-continental basis. A dam bursts and this creates bedlam... not simply as a result of the human carnage, but also because of the number of people who see this as an opportunity to push forward agendas personal to them from different corners of the earth. So you have the worlds of big business, politics, charities, protest groups, the media, villages and cities colliding. The writer obviously has a strong understanding of how these worlds knit together. This book reminds me of the biting, satirical approach of Manu Joseph's "Serious Men" as well as that book's understanding of context and character, and the extreme comedy of Marie Phillips "Gods Behaving Badly" or a Richard Pryor gig. As for the plot, it's so complex, it's a bit like a detective story gone rampant. The characters are hilarious! The language is brilliant. This is my favorite book of the year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I laughed out loud, real belly aching laughter, on more than one occasion reading this in a room on my own .... this novel is more than just comically funny - the end of the first chapter brutal case in point. Carole Enahoro's characters fill the room, your head space. Brilliant,funny, philosophically political satire and pathos. Genius, Ms Enahoro! Waiting eagerly, impatiently, for the next one....
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quick witted romp May 21 2010
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Doing Dangerously Well is Carole Enahoro's debut. And it's one of Random House Canada's picks for their New Faces of Fiction.

Hey Random - good picking!

The unthinkable happens to the majestic Kainji Dam in Nigeria - it collapses - killing hundreds of thousands. This tragedy is met with great glee by the Nigerian Minister of Natural Resources, Ogbe Kolo. Now, he thinks, is the perfect time to make a run for the presidency and cut some deals with the Americans. Mary Glass of the US company TransAqua sees lots of opportunities as well and is more than willing to work with Kolo. First up - privatizing the Niger River and selling the water back to the Nigerians. This should earn her a promotion. Mary's sister Barbara has a problem with this and joins Femi - a Nigerian activist determined to stop Kolo. There are lots of others with an eye to the water rights and their own agendas.

Enahoro has an incredibly witty sense of humour. There is nothing sacred as she joyfully skewers every faction that comes under her pen. Politics, race, religion, sexuality, nationality, family, body image and more. Her satirical sense is sharply honed. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

The dialogue is incredibly adroit, but the characters are what I really enjoyed. Barbara is the quintessential tree hugging, new age activist. She lives on her own terms and just barrels through any situation, dispensing her brand of wisdom as she passes through. Barbara's reactions to Canada and its people are priceless.

"Barbara was getting worried about these Canadians. They had a pathological cheeriness that certainly had no place in the world of international intrigue."

"They speak like Americans. They act American.
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