Canongate lands explorer Saro-Wiwa's 'unique' China travelogue

Canongate lands explorer Saro-Wiwa's 'unique' China travelogue

Canongate has acquired Black Ghosts, a "unique" travelogue about people from different African countries living in China by explorer Noo Saro-Wiwa. 

Ellah Wakatama, editor-at-large, acquired world all language rights from Elise Dillsworth at the Elise Dillsworth Agency. Black Ghosts will be published in spring 2023.

"On her travels Saro-Wiwa meets a fascinating cast of characters including a Ghanaian cardiac surgeon, a drug dealer, a visa overstayer and men who are married to Chinese women who speak English with Nigerian accents," the synopsis says. "There is also a visit to the infamous Chungking Mansions, a modern Tower of Babel that is home to 130 nationalities.

"With her trademark combination of humour and astute analysis, Saro-Wiwa meditates on individual versus communal responsibility; the representations of Africans in Chinese media and the prejudices that Chinese and Africans have towards one another."

Wakatama said: "I have long been a fan of Noo’s travel writing and photography. The links between China and Africa are as complicated as they are dynamic – changing global trade relations and political affiliations. This is a unique view, a travelogue by an African woman explorer who brings insight and a gentle, yet relentless, questioning to exploring the often precarious lives of Africans living and working in China."

Saro-Wiwa was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and raised in England. She is an author and freelance journalist. Her first book, Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria (Granta), was a Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year, nominated by the Financial Times as one of the best travel books and included as one of the 10 Best Contemporary Books on Africa by the Guardian. It was shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award in 2013 and won the Albatros Travel Literature Prize in 2016. Saro-Wiwa has contributed book reviews, travel, opinion and analysis articles for several newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement and New York Times. She has also written travel guides for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.

She said: "When I first heard about Africans living in China I was intrigued about how they negotiated life in such an incongruous [and] foreign culture. My journey was fascinating and I’m so pleased to be able to share it through Canongate."