Say You Are One of Them
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,...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, Fr ...more
I can't even rate it, I'm so angry with it.
I certainly would never recommend it (even though I think everyone should read it).
It is an important book to read.
I'm glad I read it even though it was the most horrific, awful, despairing, bleak, pessimistic, horrific, sad thing I've read since...ever.
Glad is not the right word; not at all the right word. All those other words are right.
1=did not like it?
You can't like this; how can anyone ...more
Akpan, a Jesuit priest with an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, piles on details a ...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
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
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
That actually made me want to read it. I want to be confronted, to be challenged, to be emotiona ...more
The first story I re ...more
I absolutely love books that dive into other cultures, religions and social systems. I love Africa and used to believe my calling in life was to minister to HIV/AIDS orphans, so I greatly educated myself and began writing every paper and project I could on the injustices engulfing Africa. But this book to me, was a major disap ...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
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 is fed to us i ...more
These stories are the epitome of tragic, and disturbing, yet I kept reading with one eye closed, knowing how they would end, because I felt like I owed it to them. This book makes you feel exposed and ashamed of the spoiled society we live in, and MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, sir, because it's clear thi ...more
The first two stories surprised me with a new way of looking at a topic: I hadn't really though about a child choosing a brothel because she thinks it would be better than streetwalking or that children sold into slavery would spend so long being prepped for th ...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
The stories in this book are really good, though heartrending. The author has told all of them through the eyes of children, giving an unsentimental, matter-of-fact realism to them that reminds me of "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". This has ...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
UA is a very good,confident writer and his words carry some weight. He is not a tourist nor an academic,not a journalist,and certainly no thrill seeking adventurer. His empathy is boundless, and he has sharpened his perceptions to include the grubby details that bring the stories to vivid life. I was prepared for them to be somewhat bleak,gi ...more
Unfortunately, I never did finish this book. I got through the entire first story and I thought it was good but sad, but was still hard to follow the English. I wasn't blown away but thought I'd keep on reading to give it a chance. I went on and the second story seemed like half English and half gibberish. ...more
Akpan is obviously a skilled writer. And he was pretty amazing at evoking different scenes in different parts of Africa. And every story was moving and dramatic and important. I particularly liked "Luxurious Hearses." Really amazing portrayal of the complexity involved in ethnic violence. And I thought the way he captured the language of small girls in "What Language Is That?" was enchanting.
But... Really? All these short stories about children in Africa, and each one is centered ...more