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Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

Say You're One of Them

by Uwem Akpan

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Uwen Akpan has a very important message he wants to share with you, but he does not have the skills to communicate them. This is unfortunate; the perspective of the child in modern Africa is one that has not been explored thoroughly enough.

Each of these short stories is set in a different country in modern-day Africa and is narrated by a child (two of the "stories" are more like novellas at over a hundred pages each). Akpan tackles issues such as child prostitution, slum life, slavery, race relations, and religion, but there is a striking lack of empathy and emotion in the writing that takes away from the stories. The biggest problem with this collection is the slang dialect and phonetic spelling which makes the stories absolutely unreadable at times.

If you want to read about Africa, skip this one and pick up some Chinua Achebe instead. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
these are unforgettable, haunting, disturbing stories about Africa that are so well written, and so hard to read. Proceed with caution! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
If you are looking for a book that will restore your faith in humanity and your hope for a brighter future for mankind, this is not the book you are looking for. The stories in this collection show kids in horrible situations, victims of the various evils their communities create for them, including extreme poverty, child trafficking, sexual molestation, murder, and genocidal violence. While the stories are fiction, they are based on real life, and bring to life several horrible events in recent African history that are often reduced to less unpleasant, safer narratives in news reports and history books. Kids all over the world are subjected to similar evils, so not only do these stories make the horrific conditions in parts of Africa disturbingly real, but they also show what kids closer to home are going through, from their own perspectives. Reading this book may not inspire readers to like humanity more, but it may lead to some rather fruitful discussions about what we are doing to ourselves and how we can make things better. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
The dialogues were just too incomprehensible at times! I was so glad that I somehow survived this! ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
Review:Say You’re One Of Them by Uwem Akpan.

A collection of five remarkable short stories, well written and the reality accounts of the children’s strength during the most agonizing circumstances. The stories are set in Africa and told from a child’s perspective. Some of the writing style of words were misused due to the translation from another language but understandable for the reader. The stories were set in different areas as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Benin and all about children and their dangers, perplexing lives, their searches for fragments of reprieve and among the existence of poverty, family loss, and trying to survive. The children deal with issues of slavery, religious turmoil, abandonment, and ethnic life and death situations.

Some of the reading is heartbreaking but Uwem Akpan managed to tell their stories with dignity, using poised honesty and genuine openness of situations through the voices of the children involved. Some issues are gruesome and hard to read but as the reader I felt the children’s pain and emotions and I think that was the author’s intent.

Everyone of these stories are different and sensitive and the reality is that no child should live under these circumstances. There’s a family who lives in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya has no way to find gifts of any kind for their children with the upcoming of the Christmas Holiday and has no food for a Christmas dinner. A Rwanda girl tells about her family’s struggles to uphold the impression of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister frighten with their Uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery then he is murdered and they are abandoned once again. A young Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of a young child and his friends they feel the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia which leads to tragedy. This is just a microcosm of Africa’s turmoil and children are losing their childhood to soon…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Apr 21, 2017 |
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Even the most realistic humanist films and literature are rendered with a beauty of perception that lifts us beyond ourselves even as it wounds us.

Though he is obviously a talented writer, in these stories such transcendence eludes Uwem Akpan. Inevitability is an integral part of tragedy, but for it to overwhelm us, we mustn’t see it coming. Inevitability is far different from the queasy dread of waiting for horrors we’ve already guessed at.
[The] imagery... is far more vibrant than the mechanical ways in which these stories move toward doom. With his trajectory always a fait accompli, Mr. Akpan fares better with small, evocative details than with broad strokes.
The distinct voices of these child narrators and the horrors they bear witness to make Say You're One of Them a haunting debut short-story collection. Or, perhaps it would be more faithful to the bleak tone of these stories to say that readers will be damned to remember them.
Awe is the only appropriate response to Uwem Akpan's stunning debut, Say You're One of Them, a collection of five stories so ravishing and sad that I regret ever wasting superlatives on fiction that was merely very good.
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If our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us; and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected. - - Daniel 3:17-18
What is good has been explained to you . . . to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God. - - Micah 6:8
For my parents, Linus and Margaret, whose love is a world of stories between them.

And for Uncle George, who was there.
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Now that my eldest sister, Maisha, was twelve, none of us knew how to relate to her anymore.
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Book description
Say you're One of Them is an extraordinary debut about children fighting for survival throughout the African continent.

A family lives in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya; a Rwandian girl witnesses unspeakable acts; a brother and sister cope with their uncle's attempt to sell them into slavery in Gabon; and a Muslim boy takes a terrifying ride through Nigeria: everywhere Uwem Akpan reveals the wisdom and resilience of Africa's children.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316086371, Paperback)

Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.

A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.

Uwem Akpan’s debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:44 -0400)

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This collection of five stories set in various African countries reveals the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa.

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