Say You're One of Them
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 unspe...more
Firstly, two of the stories are novellas of considerable length and extremely difficult to read. This is because, in an effort to give local flavour to the dialogue, letters are transposed, French words, local words and words that seem to have no meaning but are used for emphasis pepper the text. It does actually add to book, but it means its a slow read and there is no natural rhythm to the speech.
Akpan, a Jesuit priest with an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, piles on details a...more
The first story I re...more
That actually made me want to read it. I want to be confronted, to be challenged, to be emotiona...more
I won't go back on this opinion--it was worth reading. It was as about worth reading as most other books I have read: nothing spectacular, but not a waste of my time, either. What seemed wasteful in Akpan's bo...more
Read the three short-ish ones and they, particularly 'My Parent's Bedroom' have knocked me down with their power...
later: still reeling from this one. He's not the greatest writer in the world - the three short pieces are superbly done, but the longer pieces - novellas really - are too long, repetitive, relying on exposition too much. But that doesn't seem to matter, you forget the difficulties of dealing with the odd dialects, French and 'African' English because...more
In each of these stories, innocence collides with corruption. Set in Benin, “Fattening for Gabon” depicts an uncle who, as the guardian of two AIDS orphans, plans to sell his young charges into slavery. In “An Ex-Mas Fe...more
Tragic, frustrating, majestic, bewildering are all words I would use to describe this short story collection. I have never read so many sad tales that did not come out of Russian literature. This collection is breathtaking in so many ways that mere words do no justice. Akpan is a true artist that paints with words a world so tragically wrong that it bothers you to your core. To know that such a world exists shames us all. Yet the writing is so beautiful that...more
To further the analogy, reading Uwem Akpan was like reading Elie Wiesel- devastating and heartbreaking, with details as vivid and palpable as yesterday. The difference is that decades of history and a Western world romance with WWII have almo...more
These may not be 'real' stories, not facts to assign to real people, but they are based on real events. They are fictionalized immersions into a world too many people have turned a blind eye to.
I reccomend reading the stories from first to last. I would n...more
Hailed as "a major literary debut" (San Diego Union-Tribune) and "brilliant" (USA Today), Uwem Akpan's collection Say You're One of Them fulfills the promise of his 2005 short story, "An Ex-Mas Feast," in the New Yorker. Without flinching or lecturing, Akpan shares the almost unimaginable horrors that threaten Africa's most vulnerable children. A Jesuit priest, he also evokes the love, grace, and other spiritual values that can emerge from the fight for survival. Critics universally praised Akpa...more
The answers to this question, it seems to me, cluster about two different, but not unrelated notions.
Here is a sampling of comments printed on the jacket of the edition that I have read, arranged in those two clusters:
PRAISE for the writerly skills of the Author
"rendered with clarity and grace"
"well-crafted" by "a writer of rare gifts"
"at any page a stunning sentence will leap out"
PRAISE for the readerly content of the Stories
"imagine the unimagin...more
These stories are NOT happy, so you cannot consider this a 'light' read, and as for enjoyable... well... I didn't enjoy it in the s...more
And then I found this book
Uwem Akpan is a Nigerian Jesuit priest, and an author shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African writing, and longlisted for The Guardian First Book Award. And this book was a New York Times bestseller.
Not a combination that happens often I wouldn’t think.
This book is actually a series of five stories, unrelat...more
That is putting it mildly. It took me months to finish this book; for long stretches of time I became reluctant to pick it up again. The violence in the stories is as or more brutal than any I've read. But it is very far from the gratuitous pap that we have fed to...more
I managed to finish the first story, An Exmas feast, before I was called in for my medical appointment. This story literally turned my stomach. By the time I was called in to my appointment I was so relieved that cancer was my biggest problem. I should recommend this book...more
1. I'm glad I don't live there.
2. I don't really have any problems. I have minor difficulti...more