Allison's Reviews > Say You're One of Them

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites, fiction
Read from April 02 to 04, 2011

I usually read literary short stories with an attitude of detached admiration - of the narrative technique, of the shaping of the story arc, that kind of thing. Very rarely do I feel the kind of tension I did reading these -- I think it's the closest I've come to a genuine experience of Aristotle's catharsis involving pity and fear. In 'Fattening for Gabon' I was riveted, anticipating not just the actual taking of the children, but the realization that the adoptive godparents of whom they were so enamoured were actually child traffickers, and that their uncle was selling them. The hysterical shame and torment on the part of the uncle is horrible to see. In "Luxurious Hearses", a young Muslim boy is trying to pass for Christian so he can ride on a bus to his father's home in southern Nigeria, fleeing religious violence in the north. I was sick with tension reading about how he tries to disguise his accent and hide his missing hand, which will reveal him as a Muslim. I don't know how anyone turns the discomfort and recognition provoked by a book like this into a positive change (other than making another donation to World Vision). Anything that puts a face on the statistics has to be a move in the right direction.
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message 1: by William (new) - added it

William Hayes Your closing sentence is helpful to my own understanding of why we read books like this one: we do it to put a face on the statistics. I, too, hope it is a move in the right direction, else ...?

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