Say You're One Of Them

Say You Are One Of Them is a collection of short stories by Uwem Akpan. Born and raised in Nigeria he studied theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and became an ordained Jesuit priest. He received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Mr. Akpan's story “My Parent’s Bedroom” received recognition for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2007. His stories have received many accolades for their true exposure of life in Africa, amongst poverty and genocide.

His stories transformed me as they uncovered the realities of circumstances told from a largely marginalized perspective. Specifically, events are told from the perspective of not only an African writer, but from the view of children.

In this collection of five stories the one that still makes me cringe is the last one “My Parent’s Bedroom”. The first story “An Ex-mas Feast” was an amazing read. Told from the perspective of an eight year old boy resonated close to me. It’s portrayal of family life in a shack “which stood on a cement slab at the end of an alley, leaning against the back of an old brick shop” was detailed to the degree that I too wanted to hold the tarpaulin roof down and cover the children with the families only wet blanket. The despair and misery was palpable through Mr. Akpan’s talented writing and although I have physically been in an African shack (while on a work project in Swaziland) I have never experienced being in a shack like this until I read this story.

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