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New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
PT 5881.19 S24 S5213 2004
From the author of Abyssinian Chronicles ("one of the most impressive works of fiction to have ever come out of Africa" - Kirkus Reviews), a powerful new novel set in Uganda in the 1970's - a dark picaresque that brilliantly depicts the life and death of a nation run by men gorged on power and paranoia.
Bat Katanga is a Ugandan just returned to his homeland after two years in Britain. While he completed a postgraduate degree at Cambridge, he watched from afar as "flag independence [gave] way to economic independence" in Uganda, his chances to make a fortune there increasing with each "reform" imposed by Idi Amin. Now, when Bat lands a job as Bureaucrat Two in the Ministry of Power and Communications, he feels himself entering the top echelons of government, his sense of honor and honesty firmly intact: "Everything seemed to have been building to this moment, his triumphant entry in the bastions of power." But when he is threatened into taking a bribe from a Saudi prince, he unwittingly begins a journey - both psychological and physical - into the darkest and most dangerous precincts of the madness that was Amin's Uganda.
As Bat's life begins to unravel, we see the men and women whose lives intersect his: General Bazooka, his superior at the ministry - "a creature of people's fears and prejudices." - a man slowly losing Amin's approval, and with it any sense of safety or sanity; Victoria, who bears both Bat's child and a deadly grudge against him; Bat's family and friends, coping with the advantages and disadvantages of connection to someone in high places; Bat's wife, Babit, who pays the ultimate price for his mistakes; Robert Ashes, the mercenary Englishman who insinuates himself into Amin's trust - and who will be the only one left standing after Amin's downfall.
Snakepit is an extraordinarily revealing, deeply humanizing exploration of the experience of virulent corruption. It is a fiercely compelling novel.
Quoted from dust jacket.