Book Review – Oil on Water by Helon Habila

Thankful Series – Tobiloba
June 11, 2017
Fiction – Nostalgia
July 14, 2017


“Floode turned off the TV and turned to me. – Such great potential. You people could easily become the Japan of Africa, the USA of Africa, but the corruption is incredible”

This is not my first Helon Habila’s book. My first encounter with this creative writer was when I read ‘meaauring time’. I read measuring time few months ago, he is definitely a good writer (screams no doubt) but I was not just feeling the book. The plot did not generally appeal to me. The book is good anyway. Let’s get down to business.


The story welcomes us to a reporter’s life; Rufus. Rufus goes on a journey with his colleagues. This is not just your ‘regular’ journey. Rufus who had been reduced to an ordinary photographer makes up his mind to go through this adventure. One might say he was trying to prove himself as a reporter and also to add more color to what seems to be a lacklustre life.

What do you expect on a journey to kidnappers den? Bliss? Hell no! Rufus sees the world Nigeria has painted, he has experienced some himself but this journey sheds more light on the nebulous picture the media has painted about Niger Delta.

Death, poverty, suffering and despair makes a great part of Rufus’ story. In what seems not to be a great victory. He meets the reason behind the journey. He gets all the juicy details and it never goes as Β planned.

Twist and suspense makes up a great deal of book. How Habila carefully segued the present and past memories is impeccable.

There is no certainty for Rufus still is story and what his eyes has seen, ears have heard will forever remain green to him and his career.


I was slow with the book at first but then, BOOM! I connected with an old man and his son ; Tamuno and Michael. I was so eager to see how life dealt with them. They were the reason I continued the book. Their story is not grand but I connected with them on so many levels. Sometimes that’s all you need in a book.

I had a hard time differing between conversation and narrative. The conventional “quotes” were not used rather hyphen. This was a first for me. I had never come across this. I later had to adjust and be alert. I also had to patiently follow through to know exactly who was talking. ( Don’t judge me if this is normal for you πŸ˜€)

I enjoyed this book. I read it at every given opportunity. I was so eager to know how it panned out. It is not one of those books you can Β read the end to relieve your suspense. The craftiness of the author to be in present and take us down memory lane did not make room for that.


Yes.. Totally.. It is a 4/5 for me..That’s all I have to say.

Title: Oil on water

Author: Helon Habila

Publisher: Parresia

Source : Borrowed

What are you currently reading?

Funmilola Ogunseye
Funmilola Ogunseye
Funmilola is an avid reader who carries a book around every where. A writer, lover of all things beautiful, believer,inbound Marketing Strategist and a budding psychologist.


  1. Kelvin Kelvin says:

    Nice one

  2. Olah Femi says:

    Sound’s like a good book and a socially aware one.
    Also, nice job with the review. I like the way you identified where you struggled while reading and I’m pretty sure anyone reading the book after going through this review will definitely be looking out for the story of Tamuno and Michael.
    4/5? That’s like first class! Interesting.
    What I’m currently reading: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Book by Yuval Noah Harari (

  3. toluwani says:

    Nice review Funmi…the book sounds am eager to read the story of Tamuno and Michael…Job well-done..u are going placesπŸ™Œ

  4. Nnaji Kelsen says:

    Such a nice review. Keep up the good workπŸ‘πŸ‘

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