Seeing Double

Wilmot Patrick, Author, Patrick F. Wilmot, Author
Wilmot Patrick, Author, Patrick F. Wilmot, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-312-34263-0
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A Londoner who taught sociology in Nigeria for 18 years (before being kidnapped and deported by the government in 1988), Wilmot has created in his debut, an erudite political satire that is as exhausting as it is rewarding. Readers will first encounter a map that depicts the imaginary nation of Niagra (bordered by Texas, Neverland and the Sea of Oil) and indicates the location of the country's Elvis statue, mass grave and rock castle. Niagra, as it turns out, is actually in Africa (it abuts Nigeria) and is home to a brutal, corrupt government (led by "The Life President of Niagra and Unique Miracle of the Twentieth Century") that's fighting a losing battle against revolutionaries. Idealists with dreams of democracy stage a successful coup, but before they can get around to setting up their government, the United States begins drumming up international support for a counterinsurgency. The story, obviously, is incidental to the author's venomous critique of American foreign policy and African state-sponsored oppression. Wilmot's disparate cultural references (Toby Keith, the Tuskegee syphilis project, Will Smith, Star Trek ) don't always click, but the energy he brings to this endeavor is inspiring. (Aug.)

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