Snakepit by Moses Isegawa

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Praised on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in the author’s native Uganda, Moses Isegawa’s first novel Abyssinian Chronicles was a “big, transcendently ambitious book” (Boston Globe) that “blasts open the tidy borders of the conventional novel and redraws the literary map to reveal a whole new world” (Elle).

In Snakepit, Isegawa returns to the surreal, brutalizing landscapes of his homeland during the time of dictator Idi Amin, when interlocking webs of emotional cruelty kept tyrants gratified and servants cooperative, a land where no one–not husbands or wives, parents or lovers–is ever safe from the implacable desires of men in power. Men like General Bazooka, who rues the day he hired Cambridge-educated Bat Katanga as his “Bureaucrat Two”–a man too good at his job–and places in his midst (and his bed) a seductive operative named Victoria, whose mission and motives are anything but simple. Ambitious and acquisitive, more than a little arrogant, Katanga finds himself steadily boxed in by events spiraling madly out of control, where deception, extortion, and murder are just so many cards to be played.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Moses Isegawa

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Moses Isegawa was born in Uganda and worked as a history teacher before leaving for the Netherlands in 1990. He is the author of Abyssinian Chronicles. He lives in Amsterdam.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 274 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Snakepit

Kirkus Reviews

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Bat is (rather improbably) given a high-echelon executive position in the Ministry of Power and Communication, swiftly acquires influence and wealth, and attracts the love of Victoria, a brainy beauty who is Ondogar’s former mistress, and the “decoy” he employs to keep tabs on upwardly mobile und...

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Publishers Weekly

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The notorious excesses and infighting of the Amin regime are detailed from General Bazooka's perspective as well as that of several others, including beautiful Victoria, the general's former mistress who's now angling for Bat, and mercenary Englishman Robert Ashes, who intends to come out on top,...

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AV Club

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When former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin died last year, he'd spent his last two decades in luxurious exile.

Apr 20 2004 | Read Full Review of Snakepit

The New York Review of Books

The one character who fully enters the resistance to Amin does so only after losing his position in a spy unit controlled by Amin.

Oct 07 2004 | Read Full Review of Snakepit

Project MUSE

Contrast also promotes psychological realism in Snakepit, Isegawa's straitened people often seized by conflicting impulses at the same fraught moment.

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