419 Hardcover – Mar 27 2012
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“The story [Ferguson] weaves is heart-wrenching, fascinating, and scary. A thriller with a raw nerve ending…. Ferguson … dazzles us in 419 with an intricately woven, urgent story. It is an unflinching, ambitious work, flinging us back and forth across the Atlantic, and taking us into danger…. It is a persuasive work of fiction based on a very original premise. Ferguson who swings so deftly from humor to thriller is a writer who can genuinely surprise.” - Toronto Star
“Ferguson’s revenge novel will appeal to everyone…. A sprawling but beautiful third novel. It is a mixture of intrigue, storytelling, parenthood, sorrow, vengeance and fun. It reads a little bit like a Ludlum spy saga, a little bit like a Dickens character novel, a little bit like an Oscar-seeking movie…. [Ferguson] designed  as a page-turner. He succeeds fully.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“419 is more than a drugstore-rack police procedural: It’s a deeply ironic, thoroughly engaged politico-philosophical thriller from a comic writer best known for winning a trio of Leacock Awards…. you won’t sleep until you finish, and then rest won’t come easily. Riveting. Provocative.” - The Globe and Mail
"This book shimmers. Tautly paced and vividly drawn, 419 captures the reader in a net of desire and deceit drawn tight by the interconnections of humanity in the twenty-first century." - Vincent Lam, author of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
"419 is an ambitious, fast-paced global thriller which I found impossible to put down." - Camilla Gibb, author of Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement
"Will Ferguson's 419 unveils the brilliant layers of a Nigerian cyberspace sting that brings devastation to an entire family. Ferguson's characters live by their wits, employing techno-wizardry and the cold ingenuity of the old-fashioned con. Intrigue, coercion, shame, and torqued suspense unfold with harrowing speed and the illuminating elegance of a cyber-click." - Lisa Moore, author of Alligator and February
About the Author
Travel writer and novelist Will Ferguson is the author of several award-winning memoirs, including Beyond Belfast, about a 560-mile walk across Northern Ireland in the rain; Hitching Rides With Buddha, about an end-to-end journey across Japan by thumb; and most recently the humour collection Canadian Pie, which includes his travels from Yukon to PEI.
Ferguson's novels include Happiness™, a satire set in the world of self-help publishing, and Spanish Fly, a coming-of-age tale of con men and call girls set amid the jazz clubs of the Great Depression. His work, which has been published in more than twenty languages around the world, has been nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and he is a three-time winner of the Leacock Medal.
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Top Customer Reviews
419 takes us in a completely different direction....
We've all received them. In fact Barrister Salvadore Gallarto sent me one this morning. Can I help him with repatriating 8.5 million euros? It's a simple matter really. I'm sure that every reader has had one of these land in our inbox. And we promptly trash them. But what if you didn't?
Laura Curtis is heartbroken when her elderly father Henry is killed in an auto accident. But on further investigation, it appears he deliberately left the road. Why would he do such a thing? Further digging by the local Calgary police on his computer uncovers the truth - he had become embroiled in a 419 scam...."I can help...." (419 is the Nigerian criminal code for "obtaining money or goods under false pretenses.)
On the other side of the world in Nigeria, we follow the story of Winston - a 419 scammer. And Amina - a young pregnant woman walking her way across the country, escaping from something. And Nnamdi, a young man from the depths of the Niger Delta.
In the beginning, I wondered how these disparate stories would tie together, but Ferguson deftly weaves an absolutely riveting plot. The criminal underbelly of Nigeria is presented in all of it's seediness. But really, it is the story of Nnamdi that captured me the most. His story is given the most page space and he is the character I felt I 'knew' the most. The effect of the oil industry on a country and its' people is disheartening. The death of her father changes Laura as well.Read more ›
Starting with a "what if" scenario . . . What if someone actually responds to and tries to help one of these people in a Nigerian e-mail scam? From there we get a tour of both ends of the scenario in a well-researched, gripping read that incorporates its knowledge seamlessly into a well-constructed narrative. This is a book that will surprise you, teach you and make you think. It will make you sad.
But it gets us in touch with something that is real, that is part of the world we live in, and for that we can be grateful. And we can safely conclude that Will Ferguson is not only a humour writer, he is a simply a great writer.
The book is informative as a travelog to a place one would not normally thinks as a vacation hot spot. Nigeria is a poor country, rich in resources but poor in real management for the people. 419 refers to the Nigerian criminal code dealing with theft. I suspect Will Fergusan is referring to the Big Oil and the Nigerian government itself as the criminals. Everyone else is a victim. Great, easy read and recommended.
419 opens with a winter car crash just outside Calgary. A cold evening in one of the coldest countries in the world. The story continues in the hot sands of Nigeria. In the past, it might have been said that this cannot be the same story.
But in fact, 419 is in many ways a meditation on the nature of globalization. The story traces the path of Laura, as she investigates the untimely and suspicious death of her father, an investigation that leads her to the opposite end of the world.
This is not the Disney version of globalization, `It's a small world after all', much less Coca-Cola's `I'd like to teach the world to sing.' It is the version of globalization in which Nigeria is just as connected to Calgary as it is to Africa - by oil, by money, by the Internet. And rather than a rising tide lifting all boats, it is a race to the bottom in which desperate people take desperate measures, and organized crime has global reach and deadly consequences.
419 follows the apparently disconnected paths of Laura, Winston, Amina and Nnambi, to reveal that they are in fact connected. In this the book may remind some readers of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's film Babel, especially since Ferguson is a master of description, and 419 has a very cinematographic feel to it.
Ferguson's keen powers of observation, honed in his travels around the world, serve him well, and 419 is an intriguing novel that builds to an enthralling conclusion. Recommended!
Most recent customer reviews
Great character portrayal and emerging strands within the well woven development of the plot.Many of us have encountered the invitation of a 419. Read morePublished 4 months ago by D.Patterson
This complex and terribly sad novel was a surprise from an author I'd previously only known for humor and travel books. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
C'est une surprise pour moi que Ferguson connaisse si bien l'Afrique. Il en parle d'une façon inhabituelle en occident. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Paul-andré Desjardins
Great book that reveals what is behind all of those "I need your help to get $8 million out of my country" e-mails and who is behind them. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bob
Generally interesting book, but a few "oh really....?" plot developments made this novel less than completely satisfying. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dark Clouds
I bought this book after I got stung in a Nigerian 419 scam so it meant all the more to me. This book is authoritative. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jan Wall
It is really like this in Nigeria . . .
Friend is a helicopter pilot for the oil and gas industry and he tells me the book is very accurate . . . oh my! Read more
While the plot unfolds slowly, the climax is excellently paced. This book provides a convincing peek into the underbelly of African mafia activities. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dr. Gidon Frame