Say You're One of Them

( 185 )

Overview

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 ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$12.74
BN.com price
(Save 15%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (61) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $1.99   
  • Used (56) from $1.99   
Say You're One of Them

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

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.

Read More Show Less
  • Say You're One of Them
    Say You're One of Them  

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
…[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.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This brilliant collection of short stories by Nigerian-born Akpan invites listeners into a world of beauty and heartbreak where young people in the throes of adolescence struggle to survive harrowing violence and tragedy. Miles and the remarkable Graham meet the prose with their own intensity and bring flourishes to the realistic, empathetic characters. Graham is a true stand-out: he inhabits each character fully, aces accents, and excels at conveying an understated melancholy. A thrilling work of art. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Oct.)
School Library Journal

Adult/High School

With the intensity of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Say You're One of Them tells of the horrors faced by young people throughout Africa. Akpan uses five short stories (though at well over 100 pages, both "Luxurious Hearses" and "Fattening for Gabon" are nearly stand-alone novels in their own right) to bring to light topics ranging from selling children in Gabon to the Muslim vs. Christian battles in Ethiopia. The characters face choices that most American high school students will never have to-whether or not to prostitute oneself to provide money for one's homeless family, whether to save oneself, even if it means sacrificing a beloved sibling in the process. The selections are peppered with a mix of English, French, and a variety of African tongues, and some teens may find themselves reading at a slower pace than usual, but the impact of the stories is well worth the effort. The collection offers a multitude of learning opportunities and would be well suited for "Authors not born in the United States" reading and writing assignments. Teens looking for a more upbeat, but still powerful, story may prefer Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One (Random, 1989).-Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Redemption is in short supply in these five stories by a Nigerian priest about children caught in the crossfire of various African countries' upheavals. The opener of this debut collection, "An Ex-mas Feast," is one of the more upbeat entries-which isn't saying much, since its eight-year-old narrator describes sniffing shoe glue to ward off hunger in a Nairobi shanty town while his 12-year-old sister proudly moves from street prostitution to a brothel. In "Fattening for Gabon," a morbid variation on Hansel and Gretel, an uncle literally fattens up his nephew and niece to sell them into slavery. Although he genuinely loves them, his repentance comes too late and with not-unexpected tragic results. The least arresting story is the slight and familiar "What Language Is That?" Their families profess liberal, inclusive attitudes, but a Christian child and her Muslim best friend are prohibited from communicating when rioting breaks out in Addis Ababa, although the girls do find, perhaps briefly, "a new language." That miniscule glimmer of hope for humanity disappears in "Luxurious Hearses," an emotionally exhausting encapsulation of the devastation caused by religion. Baptized as an infant by his Catholic father, raised in a strict Muslim community by his mother, adolescent Jubril is targeted by extremists who happen to be his former playmates. Fleeing religious riots in northern Nigeria on a luxury bus full of Christians, he keeps his right wrist in his pocket; if they see that his hand has been amputated (for stealing, under Sharia law), they will know he is Muslim. Jubril comes close to finding acceptance among his fellow passengers, which only makes their ultimate violence against him thatmuch more disturbing. The final story, "My Parents' Bedroom," goes beyond disturbing toward unbearable as the children of a Tutsi mother and Hutu father in Rwanda witness the unspeakable acts their decent parents are forced to commit. Haunting prose. Unrelenting horror. An almost unreadable must-read. Agent: Maria Massie/Lippincott Massie McQuilkin
Associated Press Staff
"...a tour de force that takes readers into the lives glimpsed in passing on the evening news...These are stories that could have been mired in sentimentality. But the spare, straightforward language - there are few overtly expressed emotions, few adjectives--keeps the narratives moving, unencumbered and the pages turning to the end."
Jennifer Reese
Awe is the only appropriate response to Uwem Akpan's stunning debut, Say You're One of Them, a collection of five stories so ravishing and sad that I regret ever wasting superlatives on fiction that was merely very good. A.
Entertainment Weekly (EW Pick / Grade A)
Janet Maslin
[A] startling debut collection... Akpan is not striving for surreal effects. He is summoning miseries that are real.... He 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.
The New York Times
Megan O'Grady
Uwem Akpan's searing Say You're One of Them captures a ravaged Africa through the dry-eyed gaze of children trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amid chaos.
Vogue
Vince Passaro
The humor, the endurance, the horrors and grace-Akpan has captured all of it.... The stories are not only amazing and moving, and imbued with a powerful moral courage-they are also surprisingly expert.... Beautifully constructed, stately in a way that offsets their impoverished scenarios. Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book.
O Magazine
Lisa Shea
Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest, has said he was inspired to write by the 'humor and endurance of the poor,' and his debut story collection...about the gritty lives of African children - speaks to the fearsome, illuminating truth of that impulse.
Elle
Patrik Henry Bass
Uwem Akpan's stunning short story collection, Say You're One of Them, offers a richer, more nuanced view of Africa than the one we often see on the news....Akpan never lets us forget that the resilient youngsters caught up in these extraordinary circumstances are filled with their own hopes and dreams, even as he assuredly illuminates the harsh realities.
Essence
Kim Hubbard
In the corrupt, war-ravaged Africa of this starkly beautiful debut collection, identity is shifting, never to be trusted...Akpan's people, and the dreamlike horror of the worlds they reveal, are impossible to forget.
People
John Marshall
All the promise and heartbreak of Africa today are brilliantly illuminated in this debut collection...
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Maureen Corrigan
Akpan's brilliance is to present a brutal subject through the bewildered, resolutely chipper voice of children...All five of these stories are electrifying.
NPR's "Fresh Air"
Deirdre Donahue
brilliant...an extraordinary portrait of modern Africa... [Akpan]... is an important and gifted writer who should be read.
USA Today
Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel
This fierce story collection from a Nigerian-born Jesuit priest brings home Africa's most haunting tragedies in tales that take you from the streets of Nairobi to the Hutu-Tutsi genocide.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Adelle Waldman
Akpan combines the strengths of both fiction and journalism - the dramatic potential of the one and the urgency of the other - to create a work of immense power...He is a gifted storyteller capable of bringing to life myriad characters and points of view...the result is admirable, artistically as well as morally.
Christian Science Monitor
Susan Straight
It is not merely the subject that makes Akpan's...writing so astonishing, translucent, and horrifying all at once; it is his talent with metaphor and imagery, his immersion into character and place....Uwem Akpan has given these children their voices, and for the compassion and art in his stories I am grateful and changed.
Washington Post Book World (front page review)
Sherryl Connelly
Say You're One of Them is a book that belongs on every shelf.
New York Daily News
June Sawyers
Searing...In the end, the most enduring image of these disturbing, beautiful and hopeful stories is that of slipping away. Children disappear into the anonymous blur of the big city or into the darkness of the all-encompassing bush. One can only hope that they survive to live another day and tell another tale.
San Francisco Chronicle
John Freeman
These stories are complex, full of respect for the characters facing depravity, free of sensationalizing or glib judgments. They are dispatches from a journey, Akpan makes clear, which has only begun. It is to their credit that grim as they are-you cannot but hope these tales have a sequel.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
Alan Cheuse
An important literary debut.... 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...The reader discovers that no hiding place is good enough with these stories battering at your mind and heart.
Chicago Tribune
Jeffrey Burke and Craig Seligman
A stupefyingly talented young Nigerian priest. Akpan never flinches from his difficult subjects—poverty, slavery, mass murder—but he has the largeness of soul to make his vision of the terrible transcendent.
Bloomberg News
The Village Voice
"African writer and Jesuit priest Uwem Akpan depicts the plight of African children with the kind of restraint only possible when an author fully inhabits his characters-he manages to be empathetic without being condescending."
Craig Seligman
Akpan has the largeness of soul to make his vision of the terrible transcendent. Beside [his stories], other fiction seems to dry up and blow away like dust.
Bloomberg News
Jennifer Mattson
With this heart-stopping collection, which includes the New Yorker piece, "An Ex-Mas Feast," that marked Akpan as a breakout talent, the Nigerian-born Jesuit priest relentlessly personalizes the unstable social conditions of sub-Saharan Africa.... The stories are lifted above consciousness-raising shockers by Akpan's sure characterizations, understated details, and culturally specific dialect.
Booklist
Jennifer Reese - Entertainment Weekly (EW Pick / Grade A)
"Awe is the only appropriate response to Uwem Akpan's stunning debut, Say You're One of Them, a collection of five stories so ravishing and sad that I regret ever wasting superlatives on fiction that was merely very good. A."
Janet Maslin - The New York Times
"[A] startling debut collection... Akpan is not striving for surreal effects. He is summoning miseries that are real.... He 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."
Megan O'Grady - Vogue
"Uwem Akpan's searing Say You're One of Them captures a ravaged Africa through the dry-eyed gaze of children trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amid chaos."
Vince Passaro - O Magazine
"The humor, the endurance, the horrors and grace-Akpan has captured all of it.... The stories are not only amazing and moving, and imbued with a powerful moral courage-they are also surprisingly expert.... Beautifully constructed, stately in a way that offsets their impoverished scenarios. Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book."
Lisa Shea - Elle
"Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest, has said he was inspired to write by the 'humor and endurance of the poor,' and his debut story collection...about the gritty lives of African children - speaks to the fearsome, illuminating truth of that impulse."
Patrik Henry Bass - Essence
"Uwem Akpan's stunning short story collection, Say You're One of Them, offers a richer, more nuanced view of Africa than the one we often see on the news....Akpan never lets us forget that the resilient youngsters caught up in these extraordinary circumstances are filled with their own hopes and dreams, even as he assuredly illuminates the harsh realities."
Kim Hubbard - People
"In the corrupt, war-ravaged Africa of this starkly beautiful debut collection, identity is shifting, never to be trusted...Akpan's people, and the dreamlike horror of the worlds they reveal, are impossible to forget."
John Marshall - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"All the promise and heartbreak of Africa today are brilliantly illuminated in this debut collection..."
Maureen Corrigan - NPR's "Fresh Air"
"Akpan's brilliance is to present a brutal subject through the bewildered, resolutely chipper voice of children...All five of these stories are electrifying."
Deirdre Donahue - USA TODAY
"brilliant...an extraordinary portrait of modern Africa... [Akpan]... is an important and gifted writer who should be read."
Margo Hammond & Ellen Heltzel - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"This fierce story collection from a Nigerian-born Jesuit priest brings home Africa's most haunting tragedies in tales that take you from the streets of Nairobi to the Hutu-Tutsi genocide."
Adelle Waldman - Christian Science Monitor
"Akpan combines the strengths of both fiction and journalism - the dramatic potential of the one and the urgency of the other - to create a work of immense power...He is a gifted storyteller capable of bringing to life myriad characters and points of view...the result is admirable, artistically as well as morally."
Susan Straight - Washington Post Book World (front page review)
"It is not merely the subject that makes Akpan's...writing so astonishing, translucent, and horrifying all at once; it is his talent with metaphor and imagery, his immersion into character and place....Uwem Akpan has given these children their voices, and for the compassion and art in his stories I am grateful and changed."
Sherryl Connelly - New York Daily News
"Say You're One of Them is a book that belongs on every shelf."
June Sawyers - San Francisco Chronicle
"Searing...In the end, the most enduring image of these disturbing, beautiful and hopeful stories is that of slipping away. Children disappear into the anonymous blur of the big city or into the darkness of the all-encompassing bush. One can only hope that they survive to live another day and tell another tale."
John Freeman - Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"These stories are complex, full of respect for the characters facing depravity, free of sensationalizing or glib judgments. They are dispatches from a journey, Akpan makes clear, which has only begun. It is to their credit that grim as they are-you cannot but hope these tales have a sequel."
Alan Cheuse - Chicago Tribune
"An important literary debut.... 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...The reader discovers that no hiding place is good enough with these stories battering at your mind and heart."
Jeffrey Burke and Craig Seligman - Bloomberg News
"A stupefyingly talented young Nigerian priest. Akpan never flinches from his difficult subjects--poverty, slavery, mass murder--but he has the largeness of soul to make his vision of the terrible transcendent."
From citation by Larry Dark for SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM
"Any of the six stories in this collection set in Africa is enough to break a reader's heart. Two are novella length, including a tour de force, 'Luxurious Hearses,' which takes place on a crowded bus."
Janet Maslin - New York Times
"[A] startling debut collection... Akpan is not striving for surreal effects. He is summoning miseries that are real.... He 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."
author of When a Crocodile Eats the Sun Peter Godwin
"Say You're One of Them gives voice to Africa's children in beautifully crafted prose and stunning detail. Uwem Akpan is a major new literary talent."
author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo Peter Orner
"Here is a truly unforgettable book.Say You're One of Them is an important, well-crafted, and ultimately devastating collection, and Akpan is a writer of rare gifts and deeply humane vision. I can't recommend these stories more highly."
Jennifer Mattson - Booklist
"With this heart-stopping collection, which includes the New Yorker piece, "An Ex-Mas Feast," that marked Akpan as a breakout talent, the Nigerian-born Jesuit priest relentlessly personalizes the unstable social conditions of sub-Saharan Africa.... The stories are lifted above consciousness-raising shockers by Akpan's sure characterizations, understated details, and culturally specific dialect."
author of Love Medicine and The Plague of Doves Louise Erdrich
"Say You're One of Them is a beautiful, bitter, compelling read.The savagely strange juxtapositions in these stories are grounded by the loving relationships between brothers and sisters forced to survive in a world of dreamlike horror.Open the book at any page, as in divination, and a stunning sentence will leap out. Newspaper facts are molded by Akpan's sure touch into fictional works of great power."
author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Oscar Hijuelos
"Say You're One of
Them
is one of those collections that drops the reader into the midst of wonderfully rendered worlds, and compellingly so. I hope it finds the wide readership it merits."

author of The Liars' Club Mary Karr
"From the bowels of the most impoverished, war-ravaged continent comes this strong, brave offering from Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest. What better lens to view this landscape than through the eyes of children--siblings about to be sold into slavery by their uncle, a Muslim boy trying to pass as a Christian on a bus traversing a religious war. No news report or documentary evokes the desperate straits of the African people so keenly. Like Isaac Babel's Red Calvary stories and Michael Herr's Dispatches, Say You're One of Them has invented a new language-both for horror and the relentless persistence of light in war-torn countries.I can't shake this book, and shouldn't."
author of GraceLand and The Virgin of Flames Chris Abani
"Uwem Akpan writes with a political fierceness and a humanity so full of compassion it might just change the world. His is a burning talent."
Jim Shepard
"Say You're One of Them is not only good advice for surviving ethnic conflict; it's also, in Uwem Akpan's hands, an exercise in empathetic speculation—an exercise that, in this collection's case, seems nearly sacramental in the sobriety and miraculousness of its reach. Repeatedly these stories quietly enable us to imagine the unimaginable, and offer up to our view the unspeakable rendered with clarity and grace."
Franz Wright
"Say You're One of Them is astonishing, triumphantly unique. The stories flow with an eerie Chekhovian ease and understatement-the horrors are evoked with a matter-of-factness that is devastating, and the characters' memories and inner lives are always more real than the appalling events occurring around them. Uwem Akpan has moral greatness—you can never again put out of your mind what he has taken you firmly by the hand to get a close look at. The startling newness of his language gives us no choice but to listen."
author of Mariette in Ecstasy Ron Hansen
"Uwem Akpan's stories are extraordinary not just for the sheer power of their narratives and the sympathy and affection he lavishes on his child protagonists, but also for their importance in communicating the chaotic, strife-ridden world of Africa today. What an original, graceful, and necessary talent Akpan is!"
Maureen Corrigan - NPR's "Fresh Air"
"Akpan's brilliance is to present a brutal subject through the bewildered, resolutely chipper voice of children...All five of these stories are electrifying."
From the Publisher
"Any of the six stories in this collection set in Africa is enough to break a reader's heart. Two are novella length, including a tour de force, 'Luxurious Hearses,' which takes place on a crowded bus."—From citation by Larry Dark for SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM, a Notable Book finalist for The Story Prize.

"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...Dion Graham, in Kenyan-accented English, successfully embodies the family's mother and father, teenaged daughter, and young son"—AudioFile, Publishers Weekly

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316113953
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 7/15/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Uwem Akpan was born inIkot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at theCatholic Universityof Eastern Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing from theUniversity of Michiganin 2006. "My Parents' Bedroom," a story from hisshort story collection,Say You're One of Them, was one offive short storiesby African writers chosen as finalists for TheCaine Prizefor African Writing 2007.Say You're One of Themwon the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region) 2009 and PEN/Beyond Margins Award 2009, and was finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.In 2007, Akpan taught at a Jesuit college inHarare, Zimbabwe.Now he serves atChristthe King Church, Ilasamaja-Lagos,Nigeria.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Say You're One Of Them
Chapter One
An Ex-mas Feast
Now that my eldest sister, Maisha, was twelve, none of us knew how to relate to her anymore. She had never forgiven our parents for not being rich enough to send her to school. She had been behaving like a cat that was going feral: she came home less and less frequently, staying only to change her clothes and give me some money to pass on to our parents. When home, she avoided them as best she could, as if their presence reminded her of too many things in our lives that needed money. Though she would snap at Baba occasionally, she never said anything to Mama. Sometimes Mama went out of her way to provoke her. " Malaya! Whore! You don't even have breasts yet!" she'd say. Maisha would ignore her.
Maisha shared her thoughts with Naema, our ten-year-old sister, more than she did with the rest of us combined, mostly talking about the dos and don'ts of a street girl. Maisha let Naema try on her high heels, showed her how to doll up her face, how to use toothpaste and a brush. She told her to run away from any man who beat her, no matter how much money he offered her, and that she would treat Naema like Mama if she grew up to have too many children. She told Naema that it was better to starve to death than go out with any man without a condom.
When she was at work, though, she ignored Naema, perhaps because Naema reminded her of home or because she didn't want Naema to see that her big sister wasn't as cool and chic as she made herself out to be. She tolerated me more outside than inside. I could chat her up on the pavement no matter what rags I was wearing. An eight-year-old boy wouldn't get in the way whenshe was waiting for a customer. We knew how to pretend we were strangers-just a street kid and a prostitute talking.
Yet our machokosh family was lucky. Unlike most, our street family had stayed together-at least until that Ex-mas season.
The sun had gone down on Ex-mas evening. Bad weather had stormed the seasons out of order, and Nairobi sat in a low flood, the light December rain droning on our tarpaulin roof. I was sitting on the floor of our shack, which stood on a cement slab at the end of an alley, leaning against the back of an old brick shop. Occasional winds swelled the brown polythene walls. The floor was nested with cushions that I had scavenged from a dump on Biashara Street. At night, we rolled up the edge of the tarpaulin to let in the glow of the shop's security lights. A board, which served as our door, lay by the shop wall.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


An Ex-mas Feast     3
Fattening for Gabon     37
What Language Is That?     173
Luxurious Hearses     187
My Parents' Bedroom     323
Afterword     355
Acknowledgments     357
Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

A Message from the Author
I was born under a palm-wine tree in Ikot Akpan Eda in Ikot Ekpene Diocese in Nigeria. I was inspired to write by the people who sit around my village church to share palm wine after Sunday Mass, by the Bible and by the humor and endurance of the poor.

\ \ My grandfather was one of those who brought the Catholic Church to our village. I was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003, and I like to celebrate the sacraments for my fellow villagers. Some of them have no problem stopping me in the road and asking for confession!

\ \ I have very fond memories of my childhood in my village, where everybody knows everybody, and all my paternal uncles still live together in one big compound.

\ \ When I was growing up, my mother told me folktales and got me and my three brothers to read a lot. I became a fiction writer during my seminary days. I wrote at night, when the community computers were free. Computer viruses ate much of my work. Finally, my friend Wes Harris believed in me enough to get me a laptop. This saved me from the despair of losing my stories and made me begin to see God again in the seminary. The stories on that first laptop are the core of Say You’re One of Them. I received my MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006.

\ \ I always look forward to visiting my village. No matter how high the bird flies, its legs still face the earth. When I get back to Ikot Akpan Eda, my people and I will celebrate this book in our own way -- with lots of tall tales, spontaneous prayers and palm wine! --Uwem Akpan
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 185 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(49)

3 Star

(36)

2 Star

(42)

1 Star

(20)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 186 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A worthy Oprah's book club selection

    I read this book last week and wasn't surprised to see it selected to Oprah's book club, simply because it's a wonderful and unusual book that is deeply touching.

    SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM is a book of five short stories written by Uwem Akpan. All of the stories are set in Africa and are told from a child's perspective. They deal with such topics as slavery, religious conflict, genocide and poverty. These are stories of love and sacrifice. They are stories of compassion and confusion. They make you wonder how children can grow up and survive under such circumstances. Some of the stories will leave you feeling numb.

    The story that had the biggest impact on me was My Parent's Bedroom. It's the story of Monique, a young girl living in Rwanda with her Tutsi mother and her Hutu father. There is conflict between the two tribes, which Monique and her brother Jean don't understand. It all comes to a horrifying ending for their family when their mother makes the ultimate sacrifice. I can't describe the horror I felt at the end of this story.

    I enjoyed SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM and think it's a significant book, but I found some of the dialogue very difficult to read. I think it would have been even harder if I didn't know some French. There were times when I had to read sentences several times to extract their meaning. Here's an example of dialogue, chosen at random:

    "My mama no be like dat," Jubril argued. "I say I dey come. I go join una now now. Ah ah, no vex now. Come, pollow me go fark dis cows, and I go join."

    This book isn't a fast read, but I think it's an important one. The title of the book comes from the fact that children in Africa sometimes have to deny their identity and say they're one of "them" (another tribe or religion) in order to survive. You will be a different person after you've read this book.

    This week I'm reading EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0, which is also an incredible book that is having a HUGE impact upon me personally. If you have any interest in personal development, I recommend buying both books. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to read next week!

    39 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Eye opening read!

    This is a truly eye opening collection of stories, each from a child's perspective, about issues of survival in today's Africa.

    While the stories are set in a few countries, they don't try to single any one out in particular. Nor are the people all poor, uneducated and oppressed. The stories encompass a diverse Africa, more unique and real than I knew. I was drawn into many situations that I found myself overwhelmed at what was required just to survive, let alone triumph over the adversities.

    The writing is eloquent in giving a voice to an Africa unseen by most of the world outside her borders. It made each story live beyond just facts on a page. These things were happening to people I felt close to, and cared about.

    Take the plunge. Read this book. I'm sure you'll remember it long after you finish

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    ANOTHER STARTLING EYE-OPENER!

    A beautifully written, emotional account of long suffering lives from their vantage point. I came away feeling, acknowledging and aching for justice. Another book I read recently that affected me similarly and as deeply was EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by LINDA MASEMORE PIRRUNG. Only this book was more in the romantic suspense genre but also written beautifully and poetically. It left me feeling enlightened, but with a great sense of joy, satisfaction, well-being,compassion, and that we are all worth fighting for. JUSTICE SHOULD ALWAYS PREVAIL!!

    5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    'Fiction that gives the children of Africa a voice' is what this book is called. These are voices that are difficult to listen to from our sheltered lives. This book is for anyone who ever said, 'Why didn't I ever hear about this?, when an injustice is publicized.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 3, 2010

    Scary, revealing, sad, not very hopeful

    Akpan reveals the atrocities that take place in Africa, mostly Nigeria, and the fate of children, the religious and tribal battles and bloodshed, the ignorance and corruption, and the negative effects perpetrated by big corporations on the people and how little the people matter to these big companies. It is almost unbelievable. In fact one story left me so distraught that I awoke two nights in a row with nightmares. Recently, the bloodshed in Jos, Nigeria, between two religious groups, mirrored a story in the book. Everyone loses, and the children lose the most.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not for the faint of heart

    A great piece of literature, but it is not for the faint of heart. The stories are well written, and gives us just a glimpse of the travesties that children in Africa have had to face due to poverty & war from the perspective of a child.

    In all honestly, I just wanted to finish the book because it was too sad, and with each story, I kept anticipating that something bad was going to happen. My stomach was in knots.

    If you want an honest read, this is for you. If you're looking for a good piece of fiction to escape, I would suggest you look for something else.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful writing but you need a strong stomach.

    This isn't my usual choice of reading, but I'm glad Oprah suggested it. It certainly is an eye-opener, revealing the horrors of every day living other parts of the world must endure just to survive! We must count our blessings every day for all we have. This isn't one I will reread but I'm glad I read it. I have suggestions below on ones that I learned a lot from, are totally heartwarming and I will reread these because of the way they made me feel.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2009

    Original, fresh and soul stirring

    Uwem Akpan manages to make human, visual and real characters whose lives are sordid, awful, immoral etc., at least in our western, safe-at-home picture window way of thinking. The stories of child slavery, prostitution etc., are told in a voice that simply tells us what the people are doing and seeing, often leaving it to us to decide what they might be feeling. After all it is what the characters feel that matters as we are so often led by our own feelings of the circumstances presented in a story. Here, I can really see through the eyes of the children and can leave my own ego out of it. It is a beautiful way of writing, story-telling.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2009

    Cannot Read Again for a While

    Each story ended with no regards for the reader. The stories were so well written that the ending always caught you off guard that you had to read it over again to make sure you actually read it correctly. Great book, sad stories.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 22, 2010

    Suffer Little Children

    This is a collection of short stories (two of which are novella length) dealing with children caught in Africa's maelstroms. Individually the stories are incredibly powerful and no doubt reflect African reality. As a collection, however, I found it hard to read: the author is essentially writing the same story several times, but dressing it differently. The feeling throughout the stories is one of relentless misery and fear. There are no happy endings.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Children Suffering in Africa

    I got this book out of the library when I read on line that Oprah was scheduled to announce her next book club selection in a few weeks, and it looked like it was going to be this one, based on some clues that had been revealed. It was on the shelf in Hyde Park. When I tried to renew it after she announced it on her show, there were already several holds waiting, so I had to finish it in time to return.
    It consists of five short stories that take place in different countries in Africa. The are all focused on children and the effect that the dire circumstances of their life affect them. The first story, "An Ex-Mas Feast" takes place in Nairobi, Kenya. It is 32 pages long. The story revolves around a ten year old boy whose family is living in extreme poverty. His older sister is twelve and is earning money as a prostitute, selling herself to Western tourists. He parents encourage this.
    Next is "Fattening for Gabon," a 134 page story about two children who are going to be sold by their uncle and taken to Gabon. We see at the beginning of the story how the children are prepared for this in a way that convinces them that this is a good thing.
    "What Language is That?" is the shortest story at only 12 pages. It is about two girls in Ethiopia who are best friends until their religious differences make that impossible to continue.
    "Luxurious Hearses" is 134 pages. A teen-age boy who is from a mixed Christian-Muslim marriage has to flee from the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria to the mostly Christian south. He grew up in the north and was raised Muslim. But, he was facing attack from his former friends in the north because of his Christian heritage. He travels to the south, heading to his Christian father's village, on a bus filled with Christians who are also fleeing for their own protection, and he has to hide the fact that he is Muslim from them.
    "My Parents' Bedroom" is about a young girl in Rwanda, who is from a mixed Hutu-Tutsi marriage during the Hutu on Tutsi genocide that occurred there. It is another very short tale, only 30 pages.
    Of course, I was already aware of how desperate the situation is for so many in Africa, due to wars and other conflicts, poverty, disease, etc. The first story of the collection was so depressing, that I almost stopped reading the book. There is no hope in any of these stories, and you will feel greatly for the characters. Nothing much good happens in their lives. The stories will deeply affect you though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    I appreciate the author's point, but this book is unrelentingly sad

    Don't select this book based on the comments on the cover. It does portray the resiliency of youth and it is very worthwhile to be aware of the great troubles children face in various African countries, but each story ends with very little hope. The cover seems to suggest something uplifting. I did not find that to be the case at all. It certainly made me want to sponsor children in developing countries or send donations to groups working with underprivileged children, but so many stories with tragic endings felt like endless emotional punches.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    Gave as gift

    I gave it to a book-loving friend, and she really enjoyed it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Makes you want to stand up and fight

    I did not know this was a collection of 5 stories when I purchased the book, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I have visited some of the places mentioned in the stories and I remember the setting. But this opened my eyes as to what happens behind closed doors in some homes. The story is written from the perspecitve of children and their hope and innocence makes it eaier for you to absorb the stories of travesties committed against children.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Worth the read!

    Interesting story with a gripping plot. A little dry at times but definitely worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A valuable read

    These stories are an accurate portrayal of life in a third world country.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great story, Great message

    This book can be taken as just a great story, as it is fictional. Or it can be taken as a message about many untold stories going on in Africa right now. The stories in this book are all told from a child's perspective, giving it an interesting and touching voice. Although the stories are fictional, they closely resemble problems and events in many countries in Africa. I would recommend this book for both people who are familiar with these problems and people that would be interested in learning through a well-written fiction. By the end of the story, your heart really goes out to these characters and everything they represent. The only thing that becomes difficult about this book is that occasionally words in the child's language are used in place of the English word without much explanation of what it means.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2009

    Important Subject

    While I found this book uncomfortable to read most of the time, it is very original in format and wonderfully written. The treatment of children in our world is often abhorent and though the subject matter is difficult, it is important for all of humanity to be reminded or informed of what is happening to our precious children and the forces creating these terrible circumstances.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2009

    Definitely Stimulating

    This book makes you think and react to incidents you probably are not accustomed to hearing, seeing or even knowing exist. It takes your emotions to the limits and shows the cruelty of mankind and the gentle retort of a child who is trying to make sense of some of the most tragic situations one can find themselves faced in life. It shows the willingness of children to forgive the worst of situations and their capacity to love beyond what adults can make them endure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    I've never had to worry about not having food or shelter. I never had to wonder whether or not I would be able to attend school. These are some things that have always been an automatic in my life. I find that a lot of people take the most simple things for granted, me included. I don't know what I would do if I were to walk in someone else's shoes.

    One of the main reasons I love books is because it gives you a chance to be someone else. At least until you turn the last page. Part of the reason that I am as strong as I am, is because reading gives me strength. This book/audiobook, cannot be read/heard without feeling a sense of empowerment. As you've probably guessed, I really enjoyed this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 186 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)