* Author PR visit (TBC) to include media interviews * Review and feature coverage * Serialisation * Bound proofs
Uwem Akpan was born in Nigeria. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. He is currently living in Zimbabwe where he has taken up a teaching post.
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. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'Say You're One of Them gives voice to its children in beautifully crafted prose and stunning detail. Uwem Akpan is a major new literary talent.' - Peter Godwin, author of Mukiwa 'Uwem Akpan writes with a politcal fierceness and a humanity so full of compassion it might just change the world. His is a burning talent.' Chris Abani, author of The Virgin of the Flames
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) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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 Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.