Say You're One of Them

Say You're One of Them

by Uwem Akpan
3.2 185

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Overview

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

Uwem Akpan's stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few readers will feel they've ever encountered Africa so immediately. The eight-year-old narrator of "An Ex-Mas Feast" needs only enough money to buy books and pay fees in order to attend school. Even when his twelve-year-old sister takes to the streets to raise these meager funds, his dream can't be granted. Food comes first. His family lives in a street shanty in Nairobi, Kenya, but their way of both loving and taking advantage of each other strikes a universal chord.
In the second of his stories published in a New Yorker special fiction issue, Akpan takes us far beyond what we thought we knew about the tribal conflict in Rwanda. The story is told by a young girl, who, with her little brother, witnesses the worst possible scenario between parents. They are asked to do the previously unimaginable in order to protect their children. This singular collection will also take the reader inside Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia, revealing in beautiful prose the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa.
Akpan's voice is a literary miracle, rendering lives of almost unimaginable deprivation and terror into stories that are nothing short of transcendent. Bonus ebook content: includes an interview with "The New Yorker," additional photos of the author, discussion questions and topics, and a link to a music download.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316032520
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 06/09/2008
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 180,920
File size: 496 KB

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 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.

Customer Reviews

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Say You're One of Them 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 185 reviews.
Cheryl_Foster More than 1 year ago
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!
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
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
JohnElliott More than 1 year ago
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.
1louise1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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.
momoftwinsMM More than 1 year ago
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.
BillPilgrim More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
WrldTraveler More than 1 year ago
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.
KJG More than 1 year ago
Interesting story with a gripping plot. A little dry at times but definitely worth the read.
bellakat75 More than 1 year ago
These stories are an accurate portrayal of life in a third world country.
morgan4peace More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
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.
mlholly More than 1 year ago
I found this book of short stories to be excellent! I could feel the emotions of the characters and my interest was held throughout all five stories. I read this book over a couple of days and I couldn't believe it was over when I finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 5 days ago
I'm not making this up- they really did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In depth look into life of young Nigerian girl left with little options as she cares for family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot rate this book due to the contents - all of the stories were very upsetting because I know they're real. During my entire read, I was in pain/miserable. Truly I did not enjoy the book and more power to the people who did like it.
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