The Resource Say you're one of them
- Say you're one of them
- Statement of responsibility
- Uwem Akpan
- Title variation
- Say youre one of them
- This singular collection of five stories takes the reader inside Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia, revealing in beautiful prose the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa
- Booklist Editors' Choice: Adult Books for Young Adults, 2008.
- Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Africa: Best First Book, 2009.
- Hurston/Wright Legacy Award: Fiction, 2009.
- Library Journal Best Books, 2008.
- /*Starred Review*/ With this heart-stopping collection, which includes the New Yorker piece, "An Ex-Mas Feast," that marked Akpan as a breakout talent, the Nigerian-born Jesuit priest relentlessly personalizes the unstable social conditions of sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout, child narrators serve as intensifying prisms for horror, their vulnerability and slowly eroding innocence lending especially chilling dimensions to the 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; and the 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's crushed skull, Akpan tackles grisly violence head-on, but most 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 specific dialect. Don't expect to emerge with redemption delivered on a silver platter. The stories' tattered hope comes indirectly, from the thirst for broader knowledge about Africa's postcolonial conflicts they'll engender, and from the possibility that the collection's opening map, with the featured nations labeled (as helpful as it is a glaring symbol of most Western readers' woeful ignorance), will someday prove superfluous. -- Mattson, Jennifer (Reviewed 07-01-2008) (Booklist, vol 104, number 21, p37)
- 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 --Sarah Krygier (Reviewed October 1, 2008) (School Library Journal, vol 54, issue 10, p177)
- /* Starred Review */ 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. --Staff (Reviewed April 14, 2008) (Publishers Weekly, vol 255, issue 15, p36)
- /* Starred Review */ Redemption is in short supply in these five stories by a Nigerian priest about children caught in the crossfire of various African countries' upheavals.The opener of this debut collection, "An Ex-mas Feast," is one of the more upbeat entries—which isn't saying much, since its eight-year-old narrator describes sniffing shoe glue to ward off hunger in a Nairobi shanty town while his 12-year-old sister proudly moves from street prostitution to a brothel. In "Fattening for Gabon," a morbid variation on Hansel and Gretel, an uncle literally fattens up his nephew and niece to sell them into slavery. Although he genuinely loves them, his repentance comes too late and with not-unexpected tragic results. The least arresting story is the slight and familiar "What Language Is That?" Their families profess liberal, inclusive attitudes, but a Christian child and her Muslim best friend are prohibited from communicating when rioting breaks out in Addis Ababa, although the girls do find, perhaps briefly, "a new language." That miniscule glimmer of hope for humanity disappears in "Luxurious Hearses," an emotionally exhausting encapsulation of the devastation caused by religion. Baptized as an infant by his Catholic father, raised in a strict Muslim community by his mother, adolescent Jubril is targeted by extremists who happen to be his former playmates. Fleeing religious riots in northern Nigeria on a luxury bus full of Christians, he keeps his right wrist in his pocket; if they see that his hand has been amputated (for stealing, under Sharia law), they will know he is Muslim. Jubril comes close to finding acceptance among his fellow passengers, which only makes their ultimate violence against him that much more disturbing. The final story, "My Parents' Bedroom," goes beyond disturbing toward unbearable as the children of a Tutsi mother and Hutu father in Rwanda witness the unspeakable acts their decent parents are forced to commit.Haunting prose. Unrelenting horror. An almost unreadable must-read. (Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2008)
- Awards note
- Commonwealth Writers' Prize winner.
- Cataloging source
- Dewey number
- no index present
- Interest level
- Grades 9-12
- Literary form
- Reading level
- Series statement
- Oprah's book club
- Study program name
- Accelerated Reader
ContextContext of Say you're one of them
Embed this data in a secure (HTTPS) page:
Include data citation:
Cite Data - Experimental
Data Citation of the Work Say you're one of them
Copy and paste the following RDF/HTML data fragment to cite this resource
<div class="citation" vocab="http://schema.org/"><i class="fa fa-external-link-square fa-fw"></i> Data from <span resource="http://link.library.austintexas.gov/resource/eQLC90wTzsc/" typeof="CreativeWork http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/Work"><span property="name http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/label"><a href="http://link.library.austintexas.gov/resource/eQLC90wTzsc/">Say you're one of them</a></span> - <span property="potentialAction" typeOf="OrganizeAction"><span property="agent" typeof="LibrarySystem http://library.link/vocab/LibrarySystem" resource="http://link.library.austintexas.gov/"><span property="name http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/label"><a property="url" href="http://link.library.austintexas.gov/">Austin Public Library</a></span></span></span></span></div>