Helon Habila tpically writes works that are charged with social and political meaning and relevance. His 2008 novel Oil on Water, which won the Commonwealth Prize, took up issues such as kidnapping, oil conflicts and the problem of militancy in Niger Delta Nigeria.
This time around, his latest book tells the stories of the families affected by the abduction of over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok. This abduction was publicized with the hashtag BringBackOurGirls and spurred worldwide outrage and response. Since the unfortunate event took place in 2014, global interest around the issue has waned. Most of the girls have still not been found. Their families are still bereaved. And the nation has still not been able to make sense of the tragedy.
Habila’s book promises to bring some level of clarity to the event in a painstaking documentation of the families’ experiences of their loss. His work is an attempt to chronicle a story that we must never forget.
Here is the synopsis as seen on Amazon. The book is expected to be released in November this year:
On April 15, 2014, 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila tracks down some of the escaped girls and their families to hear their stories and to offer the most complete and intimate account yet of this horrible tragedy that stunned the world. Through their personal stories, Habila offers readers a better understanding of the religious wars that have ravaged his country, of which Boko Haram is just another phase in an endless battle between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria.
The response to Habila’s announcement of the book on Facebook has been overwhelmingly positive. Petina Gappah, Okey Ndibe, Jumoke Verissimo, Amatoritsero Ede, and others in the literary community expressed their excitement for the book. Wainaina Binyavang said on Facebook that the book is a much needed intervention of African writers in the issue of terrorism.
Congrats to Habila. We are confident he will do justice to the stories of these missing girls..
Pre-order the book here.