“Say You’re One of Them” is a collection of five short stories that explore the different lives of African children. There is eight-year-old Jigana, a young Kenyan boy whose 12-year-old sister Maisha has turned to prostitution in order to support the family and whose mother makes them sniff glue in order to suppress the constant hunger. Then there’s Jubril, a young Muslim who, after being attacked by his own neighbors, attempts to flee the ethnic violence in northern Nigeria by boarding a bus of Christian refugees to the country’s south. In Gabon, 10-year-old Kotchikpa and his sister are sent by their parents to live with their uncle Fofo, who in turn sells them to traffickers. Hailed for his vivid language and powerful message, Akpan paints a moving and forceful picture of the situations too many African children find themselves in and their outlook on what the future may bring.
Born in 1971 in Nigeria, Uwem Akpan is both a writer and Jesuit priest. Say You’re One of Them, his first book, won The Caine Prize for African Writing in 2007. The book was then published in the United States and selected by Oprah Winfrey as one of her favorite books of 2009, helping it land at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. The work has also been published in Germany and Austria, to great success.