Sometime in the near future Nigeria's Kainji Dam, a 10-kilometre-long engineering marvel, suddenly collapses. Hundreds of thousands of villagers drown and many more are left in danger. Water becomes known as "blue gold," a commodity hotter than oil and up for grabs. Cue the opportunists.
A colourful cast of characters is swept up into the frenzy that erupts following the dams collapse. Nigeria's minister for natural resources, Chief Ogbe Kolo, sees this as an opportunity to become president and turn himself into a national hero. Mary Glass and her colleagues at TransAqua in Santa Fe, New Mexico see this as an opportunity to buy the rights to the Niger River and then move throughout the world exploiting other traumatized nations for personal gain. Mary's sister Barbara, a flighty conflict manager decides to become a water activist so she can take revenge on her sister and thwart her plans. Femi Jegede is a Nigerian activist whose family was swept away in the dam collapse and who suffers from post-traumatic stress. The lives of these characters and many, many others are quickly thrown together in what turns out to be a wonderful, dark satirical romp.
Doing Dangerously Well is the first novel from Carole Enahoro and what an incredible debut it is! Nothing is safe from Enahoro's sharp wit as she takes on a serious topic and the unfortunate truths that we face as a people when it comes to globalization, the environment and water rights.
Though this is a longer book (470 pages) it is a fast-paced read that will have you laughing out loud while mourning the sense of decency at the same time. Recent real-life environmental disasters will make this book hit home. I was very impressed with the Enahoro's blend of satire, trauma and compassion. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more from Carole Enahoro.
Carole Enahoro is a resident of Nigeria, Britain, and Canada. Part of this novel takes place in Canada and I have to say that her writing about Canada had me laughing out loud and proud to be Canadian. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Barbara was getting worried about these Canadians. They had a pathological cheeriness that certainly had no place in the world of international intrigue. (p. 157)
She strode past skaters opting to remain outdoors in sub-zero temperatures on the Rideau Canal. "It's the only world they know," she sighed, forgetting the three other seasons she had already encountered in Ottawa. "I expect they have developed an extra layer of blubber to cope." (p. 364)