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Say Youre One of Them

by Uwem Akpan

Publishers Weekly Nigerian-born Jesuit priest Akpan transports the reader into gritty scenes of chaos and fear in his rich debut collection of five long stories set in war-torn Africa. "An Ex-mas Feast" tells the heartbreaking story of eight-year-old Jigana, a Kenyan boy whose 12-year-old sister, Maisha, works as a prostitute to support her family. Jigana's mother quells the children's hunger by having them sniff glue while they wait for Maisha to earn enough to bring home a holiday meal. In "Luxurious Hearses," Jubril, a teenage Muslim, flees the violence in northern Nigeria. Attacked by his own Muslim neighbors, his only way out is on a bus transporting Christians to the south. In "Fattening for Gabon," 10-year-old Kotchikpa and his younger sister are sent by their sick parents to live with their uncle, Fofo Kpee, who in turn explains to the children that they are going to live with their prosperous "godparents," who, as Kotchikpa pieces together, are actually human traffickers. Akpan's prose is beautiful and his stories are insightful and revealing, made even more harrowing because all the horror--and there is much--is seen through the eyes of children. (June) Read a web-exclusive q&a with Uwem Akpan at www.publishersweekly.com/akpan. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Already featured twice in The New Yorker, Nigerian (and Jesuit priest) Akpan here collects his stories of Africa's troubled children. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Withthisheart-stopping collection, which includes the NewYorkerpiece, An Ex-Mas Feast, that marked Akpan as a breakout talent, the Nigerian-born Jesuit priestrelentlesslypersonalizestheunstable socialconditions of sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout, child narrators serve as intensifying prisms for horror,their vulnerability and slowly eroding innocence lending especially chilling dimensionstothe volume's two most riveting entries: Fattening for Gabon (one of the book's three novellas), about the systematic grooming of a Benin 10-year-old and his sister for sale to a sex-slavery ring; andthe collection's title story, a harrowing plunge into the mind of a mixed-race girl during the Rwandan genocide.From the slurp of machetes slashing into flesh to a toddler's oblivious stomping through blood puddling from his mother'scrushedskull,Akpan tackles grisly violence head-on,butmost of the stories, with the exception of the overlong,metaphor-laden Luxurious Hearses, are lifted above consciousness-raising shockers by Akpan's sure characterizations, understated details, and culturally specificdialect.Don't expect to emerge withredemption delivered on a silver platter.The stories' tattered hopecomes indirectly, from the thirstfor broader knowledge about Africa'spostcolonial conflicts they'll engender, andfromthe possibilitythat the collection's opening map, with the featured nations labeled (as helpful as it is a glaringsymbol of most Western readers' woeful ignorance), willsomeday prove superfluous.--Mattson, Jennifer Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Forthright language, scalding scenarios: an uncle tries to sell his niece and nephew into slavery, a girl sees her family slaughtered in Rwanda. Akpan, a Nigerian-based Jesuit priest, triumphs with a debut collection that illustrates the bone-crushing fate of Africa's children. (LJ 5/1/08) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved