Wednesday, 6 May 2015

419 by Will Ferguson

It has happened to all of us. We open our email in the morning and there is an “offer of a lifetime” from someone in Nigeria: a prince, a businessman, or a young woman in trouble. The anguished message pleads for help, requests you transfer money from your bank account to one in Nigeria or begs you open your bank account to receive millions of dollars for safekeeping — with a gratuity for your help. The reason you’ve been contacted, the email explains, is that you are honest, reliable and have a good head for business.
Together the scams are known as 419, named after a former section of the Nigerian Criminal Code. Most of us delete emails like these, recognizing they are clever ways to heist our money, but a surprising number don’t, making 419 one of the most lucrative economic pastimes in Nigeria. Will Ferguson peels back the covers on these types of scams in his new novel 419, cleverly looking at the wretched ruse from both sides — victims and perpetrators.

About the Author

William Stener Ferguson, travel writer and novelist (born at Fort Vermilion, AB, 12 Oct 1964). Will Ferguson was educated in western Canada and graduated with a BFA from York University. Ferguson's writing encompasses the whole of human experience. His narratives describe historic, human and geographic landscapes, expressing the shifting nature of humanity in genres as diverse as the novel, the essay, travelogue and memoir, and in his reflections on Canadian identity...
...Ferguson's 2012 novel, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. International in scope, it explores unfathomed despair and how it corrupts the human soul. Ferguson's intricate plot is like a transcontinental contagion that, through computers, infects the lives of innocents made gullible and guilty by association with their nation's GDP: "I am contacting you today regarding an urgent business proposal...the decision you make will go a        long ways toward determining the future...of a young woman."

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