Black Ghosts by Noo Saro-Wiwa


The travel memoir of a Nigerian woman in China exploring the intersections and divides between the two cultures and the lives of African economic migrants in the bustling People’s Republic


China today is a land of opportunity for African people blocked from commerce with most of Europe and Northern America. It is also an intersection of racism and prejudice.

Noo Saro-Wiwa goes in search of China’s ‘Black Ghosts’, African economic migrants in the People’s Republic. Living in clustered communities, they are key to the trade between the continents. Her fascinating encounters include a cardiac surgeon, a drug dealer, a visa overstayer and men married to Chinese women who speak English with Nigerian accents. This is a story of intersecting cultures told with candour and compassion, focusing on the shared humanity between the sojourner and their hosts.

Editorial Reviews


“[Noo Saro-Wiwa] travels to China and sets out to explore through the eyes of immigrant Africans who can travel and trade easily in the country, unlike in many European and western countries. It’s an impressionistic but revealing account of a journey through “a separate and nebulous universe”” ― Financial Times

2A gripping examination of a little-known land: the one Africans occupy in China or, more accurately, in Guangdong. Who knew? Noo Saro-Wiwa has found a fine subject and covers it nimbly. This is a revealing book2 — SARA WHEELER

Black Ghosts is a marvellous yet unlikely book, travel with a theme, the revelation of modern China by investigating the underclass of African immigrants – highly trained doctors as well as rascals and rappers. Noo Saro-Wiwa is a brave and resourceful traveller-interrogator – outstanding in the so-called travel writing genre” — PAUL THEROUX

“Absolutely fascinating . . . the portraits are heart-rending [and] fantastic” ― BBC Radio 4, Start the Week

“Shrewd and enthralling . . . The portraits [Noo Saro-Wiwa] presents are enlightening and affecting and a valuable contribution to this still poorly documented migration” ― Geographical

“Interesting [and] charming . . . the author retain[s] a freshness and curiosity about China which are increasingly hard to find in mainstream coverage of the country in the West” ― Literary Review

“Gutsy and determined, perhaps cut from the same cloth as her subjects, Saro-Wiwa succeeds in getting her story. The reader cannot help but be filled with admiration” ― Perspective

“An extraordinary read . . . makes readers understand a little more about Africans’s presence in China and sympathise with their fight to keep living [despite] the lack of government support to help their people in a foreign land” ― World Literature Today

“Powerful . . . [Black Ghosts] explores, with candour and compassion, the lives of several African economic migrants living in China, a group of people who are key to trade between the continents” ― Conversation

About the Author

Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and raised in England. She attended King’s College London and Columbia University in New York. She is an author and journalist currently working for Conde Nast Traveller. Her first book, Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, was published in 2012 and was named 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 also shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award in 2013 and won the Albatros Travel Literature Prize in 2016.

@noosarowiwa |


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