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Author:  Uwem Akpan
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Say Youre One of Them Akpan, Uwem 1 of 1
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FORMAT: Hardcover
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Learn more about Say You're One of Them:

Format: Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0316086363
ISBN-13: 9780316086363
Sku: 211970709
Publish Date: 9/18/2009
Dimensions:  (in Inches) 8.5H x 6L x 1.25T
Pages:  358
Oprah Book Club #63
Uwem Akpan's first published short story, "An Ex-mas Feast," appeared in The New Yorker's Debut Fiction issue in 2005. The story's portrait of a family living together in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya, and their attempts to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday, gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances—and signaled the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer.

"My Parents' Bedroom" is a Rwandan girl's account of her family's struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. In "Fat­tening for Gabon," a brother and sister cope with their uncle's attempt to sell them into slavery. "Luxurious Hearses" creates a microcosm of Africa within a busload of refugees and introduces us to a Muslim boy who summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride through Nigeria. "What Language Is That?" reveals the emotional toll of the Christian-Muslim conflict in Ethiopia through the eyes of childhood friends. Every story is a testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing situations our planet can offer.

About The Author
Uwem Akpan was born in Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. My Parents’ Bedroom, a story from his short story collection, Say You’re One of Them, was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for The Caine Prize for African Writing 2007. Say You’re One of Them won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region) 2009 and PEN/Beyond Margins Award 2009, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. In 2007, Akpan taught at a Jesuit college in Harare, Zimbabwe. Now he serves at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja-Lagos, Nigeria.

After reading this painfully affective collection of profound short stories, written from the point of view of children from five different countries in Africa, every complaint we might make about our lives seems insignificant. In his stunning literary debut, Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest who was born and raised in Nigeria, evokes the casual atrocities of life in modern Africa, horrors whose edges are honed by the dull resignation with which the characters accept them. In one story, an eight-year-old boy in Kenya tries to rectify the guilt he feels from knowing that his 12-year-old sister is selling her body to support her family and his education. Another tale adds a morbid twist to a fairy tale theme, as a brother and sister in Gabon realize that their uncle is attempting to fatten them up to be sold into slavery. The most wrenching story depicts the crimson chaos of the Rwandan genocide, as seen through the eyes of the young daughter of a Hutu-Tutsi marriage. Akpan writes with riveting wisdom and emotional density, prudently ignoring the temptation for authorial flourish as he presents each horrific scene in the lucid prose of a child.


"Akpan's prose is beautiful and his stories are insightful and revealing, made even more harrowing because all the horror--and there is much--is seen through the eyes of children." (starred review) 04/14/2008

"This is heartfelt reportage, written with a poet's eye for telling extremely impressive collection..." - Matt Thorne 09/01/2008

"[A] startling debut collection....[Akpan] fuses a knowledge of African poverty and strife with a conspicuously literary approach to storytelling, filtering tales of horror through the wide eyes of the young. In each of the tales in SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM a protagonist's childlike innocence is ultimately savaged by the facts of African life." - Janet Maslin 06/27/2008

"[A] stunning achievement. This book is brave, it's terrifying, and it has the disconcerting effect of making a lot of other contemporary fiction seem so much inconsequential drivel." - Nicola Barr 04/11/2009

"Juxtaposed against the clarity and revelation in Akpan's prose--as translucent a style as I've read in a long while--we find subjects that nearly render the mind helpless and throw the heart into a hopeless erratic rhythm out of fear, out of pity, out of the shame of being only a few degrees of separation removed from these monstrous modern circumstances." - Alan Cheuse 05/31/2008

Product Attributes

Product attributeBook Format:   Hardcover
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0358
Product attributePublisher:   Little Brown and Company
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