A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.
Say You’re One of Them
Uwem Akpan’s debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent. Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.
Uwem Akpan is a Nigerian writer who was born in Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria; his parents were teachers. He and his three brothers grew up speaking both English and Annang. After studying humanities and philosophy from Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he got a theology degree from the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya. Uwem is also a graduate of the University of Michigan's MFA program.
Uwem is the author of Say You’re One of Them (2008), a collection of five stories (each set in a different African country) published by Little, Brown & Company. It won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the PEN Open Book Award. In 2009 Oprah Winfrey recommended Uwem Akpan's Say You’re One of Them as her 63rd influential book club selection. Akpan said he was humbled to learn his debut collection of short stories had caught Winfrey's eye. Winfrey said that Say You're One of Them (published by Little, Brown, 2008), "left [her] stunned and profoundly moved." The five short stories give voice to an African child growing up in the face of incredible adversity.
Entertainment Weekly put the book on its end-of-the-decade "best-of" list, saying: "Against all odds, the Nigerian priest's searing African stories from 2008 imparted both joy and hope."