Say You're One of Them (Hardcover)
|Author: Uwem Akpan|
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|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
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.
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