Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, this novel tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by a large and powerful American oil company. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight the American corporation—but doing so will come at a steep price.
Mbue...paints a gripping and nuanced picture of resistance ... The book’s narrative device, a chorus of voices, sometimes stalls the linear march of the story as each narrator tells a similar tale of difficult circumstances, barely pushing the plot forward. This reflectiveness emphasizes the universal ring to the villagers’ epic battle, and the outcomes are tragically familiar. Mbue’s novel offers proof that capitalism is just colonialism masquerading as a different avatar.
In this persuasive novel, Thula is a powerful if ultimately doomed heroine, and Mbue makes it clear that Goliath will always defeat David in a postcolonial society ruled by greed, corruption, and untrammeled capitalism.
Among the many virtues of Mbue’s novel is the way it uses an ecological nightmare to frame a vivid and stirring picture of human beings’ asserting their value to the world, whether the world cares about them or not. A fierce, up-to-the-minute novel that makes you sad enough to grieve and angry enough to fight back.