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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.
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.
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.
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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.From AudioFile:
This abridgment includes three stories from Nigerian writer Uwem Akpan's collection. The title story, "Say You're One of Them," recounts horrifying days in the Rwandan Hutu-Tutsi conflict, narrated in the first person by a young girl. Robin Miles adopts a lovely French-African accent, and if she allows Akpan's beautiful turns of phrase to shine, the underlying tension and fear are also never far from the surface. Miles also narrates "What Language Is That?" This story is partially unaccented, a choice that accentuates the second-person point of view. "An Ex-Mas Feast" follows the sometimes-humorous, sometimes-bleak fortunes of a street family in Nairobi. Dion Graham, in Kenyan-accented English, successfully embodies the family's mother and father, teenaged daughter, and young son. Overall, not an easy listen, but a worthwhile one. J.M.D. © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
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