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 into 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.
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Date of publication: 24/10/2005
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