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Download An Ex-Mas Feast: (A Story from Say You’re One of Them) Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample An Ex-Mas Feast: (A Story from Say You’re One of Them) Audiobook, by Uwem Akpan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 5 3.29 (14 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Uwem Akpan Narrator: Dion Graham Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2008 ISBN: 9781600243011
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Uwem Akpan’s stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few listeners will feel they’ve ever encountered Africa so immediately.

The eight year old narrator of “An Ex-Mas Feast” needs only enough money to buy books and pay fees in order to attend school. Even when his twelve-year-old sister takes to the streets to raise these meager funds, his dream cannot be granted, because food comes first. His family lives in a street shanty in Nairobi, Kenya, but their way of both loving and taking advantage of each other strikes a universal chord.

Akpan’s voice is a literary miracle, rendering lives of almost unimaginable deprivation and terror into stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Akpan combines the strengths of both fiction and journalism - the dramatic potential of the one and the urgency of the other - to create a work of immense power...He is a gifted storyteller capable of bringing to life myriad characters and points of view...the result is admirable, artistically as well as morally. Adelle Waldman, Christian Science Monitor
  • It is not merely the subject that makes Akpan's...writing so astonishing, translucent, and horrifying all at once; it is his talent with metaphor and imagery, his immersion into character and place....Uwem Akpan has given these children their voices, and for the compassion and art in his stories I am grateful and changed. Susan Straight, Washington Post Book World (front page review)
  • Say You're One of Them is a book that belongs on every shelf. Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News
  • Searing...In the end, the most enduring image of these disturbing, beautiful and hopeful stories is that of slipping away. Children disappear into the anonymous blur of the big city or into the darkness of the all-encompassing bush. One can only hope that they survive to live another day and tell another tale. June Sawyers, San Francisco Chronicle
  • These stories are complex, full of respect for the characters facing depravity, free of sensationalizing or glib judgments. They are dispatches from a journey, Akpan makes clear, which has only begun. It is to their credit that grim as they are-you cannot but hope these tales have a sequel. John Freeman, Cleveland Plain-Dealer
  • An important literary debut.... Juxtaposed against the clarity and revelation in Akpan's prose-as translucent a style as I've read in a long while--we find subjects that nearly render the mind helpless and throw the heart into a hopeless erratic rhythm out of fear, out of pity, out of the shame of being only a few degrees of separation removed from these monstrous modern circumstances...The reader discovers that no hiding place is good enough with these stories battering at your mind and heart. Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
  • A stupefyingly talented young Nigerian priest. Akpan never flinches from his difficult subjects--poverty, slavery, mass murder--but he has the largeness of soul to make his vision of the terrible transcendent. Jeffrey Burke and Craig Seligman, Bloomberg News
  • Any of the six stories in this collection set in Africa is enough to break a reader's heart. Two are novella length, including a tour de force, 'Luxurious Hearses,' which takes place on a crowded bus. From citation by Larry Dark for SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM, a Notable Book finalist for The Story Prize.
  • Uwem Akpan's searing Say You're One of Them captures a ravaged Africa through the dry-eyed gaze of children trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amid chaos. Megan O'Grady, Vogue
  • The humor, the endurance, the horrors and grace-Akpan has captured all of it.... The stories are not only amazing and moving, and imbued with a powerful moral courage-they are also surprisingly expert.... Beautifully constructed, stately in a way that offsets their impoverished scenarios. Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book. Vince Passaro, O Magazine
  • Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest, has said he was inspired to write by the 'humor and endurance of the poor,' and his debut story collection...about the gritty lives of African children - speaks to the fearsome, illuminating truth of that impulse. Lisa Shea, Elle
  • Haunting prose.... A must-read. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • 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. A. Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly (EW Pick / Grade A)
  • [A] startling debut collection... Akpan is not striving for surreal effects. He is summoning miseries that are real.... He fuses a knowledge of African poverty and strife with a conspicuously literary approach to storytelling filtering tales of horror through the wide eyes of the young. Janet Maslin, The New York Times
  • ...a tour de force that takes readers into the lives glimpsed in passing on the evening news...These are stories that could have been mired in sentimentality. But the spare, straightforward language - there are few overtly expressed emotions, few adjectives--keeps the narratives moving, unencumbered and the pages turning to the end. Associated Press
  • brilliant...an extraordinary portrait of modern Africa... [Akpan]... is an important and gifted writer who should be read. Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY
  • This fierce story collection from a Nigerian-born Jesuit priest brings home Africa's most haunting tragedies in tales that take you from the streets of Nairobi to the Hutu-Tutsi genocide. Margo Hammond & Ellen Heltzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • Uwem Akpan's stunning short story collection, Say You're One of Them, offers a richer, more nuanced view of Africa than the one we often see on the news....Akpan never lets us forget that the resilient youngsters caught up in these extraordinary circumstances are filled with their own hopes and dreams, even as he assuredly illuminates the harsh realities. Patrik Henry Bass, Essence
  • In the corrupt, war-ravaged Africa of this starkly beautiful debut collection, identity is shifting, never to be trusted...Akpan's people, and the dreamlike horror of the worlds they reveal, are impossible to forget. Kim Hubbard, People
  • All the promise and heartbreak of Africa today are brilliantly illuminated in this debut collection... John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Akpan's brilliance is to present a brutal subject through the bewildered, resolutely chipper voice of children...All five of these stories are electrifying. Maureen Corrigan, NPR's "Fresh Air"
  • “Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Drops the reader into the midst of wonderfully rendered worlds, and compellingly so. I hope it finds the wide readership it merits.”

    Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

  • “A startling debut…Akpan is not striving for surreal effects. He is summoning miseries that are real…He fuses a knowledge of African poverty and strife with a conspicuously literary approach to storytelling filtering tales of horror through the wide eyes of the young.”

    New York Times

  • “Awe is the only appropriate response to Uwem Akpan’s stunning debut…so ravishing and sad that I regret ever wasting superlatives on fiction that was merely very good.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Uwem Akpan…captures a ravaged Africa through the dry-eyed gaze of children trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amid chaos.”

    Vogue

  • “Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest, has said he was inspired to write by the ‘humor and endurance of the poor,’ and his debut story collection…about the gritty lives of African children—speaks to the fearsome, illuminating truth of that impulse.”

    Elle

  • “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. 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.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Haunting prose…A must-read.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book
  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection in 2009
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction
  • Nominated for the Guardian First Book Award in 2008
  • One of the Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2008
  • Nominated for the Story Prize for Short Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 10/16/2011

    " Tragic stories. We can barely imagine the gap of the haves and have-nots. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Christelle | 10/7/2011

    " Very disturbing and I usually would not give up. I just couldn't finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 10/2/2011

    " really hard to read... but true. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ms | 9/30/2011

    " I listened via audio. Wonderfully touching stories, some are harsh but beautifully written.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine | 9/17/2011

    " Short stories written with often startling images of genocide and ethnic conflict's affect on children in several African countries. I found "Luxurious Hearses" to be the least lyrical story. All in all, worth the read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 9/17/2011

    " Lots of sad stories, but overall good to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ania | 9/16/2011

    " I was kind of underwhelmed by this book. I think the stories were just ok. The situations and stories themselves were moving - but the way that they were presented (either the character development or the length or just general tone) was kind of lacking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle | 9/14/2011

    " This was an amazing but gut-wrenching book about the struggle of children in various parts of Africa. I cried and cried and then I wanted to adopt all the struggling children. It's a great book that will make you think, feel, and desire to not only have compassion but to help those in need. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 9/10/2011

    " Very powerful - and disturbing. Stories of Africa written by a Jesuit priest. Addresses such issues as poverty, child trafficking, religious conflict/violence. Having just spent eight months in Nigeria, this book really resonated with me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Antica | 9/4/2011

    " i didnt technically read all of this book, I read the first one and the one about the best friends and found them both very interesting stories. I couldnt get my head to wrap around the others though. perhaps i will be able to read it later in the future and edit my review then "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mel | 9/4/2011

    " I didn't think that I would like this because it is short stories. However, each of them managed to send a point to the reader to make them think. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sheryl | 8/28/2011

    " Didn't fully get the messages of strength. It just seemed like a collection of sad stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Snakedok79 | 8/22/2011

    " This is a very shocking story but I think that it is one that everyone should read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chelsea | 5/4/2011

    " The book was well written but extremely sad. I struggled with whether or not to finish it. On one hand it was effecting me a lot and on the other hand I shouldn't ignore what is happening in the world. "

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About the Author
Author Uwem Akpan

Uwem Akpan was born in the village of Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of East Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. “My Parents’ Bedroom” was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for the Caine Prize for African Writing. In 2007, Akpan began a teaching assignment at a Jesuit college in Harare, Zimbabwe.

About the Narrator

Dion Graham, from HBO’s The Wire, also narrates The First 48 on A&E. Winner of fifteen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for best narration, he has performed on Broadway, off Broadway, internationally, in films, and in several hit television series. His performances have been praised as thoughtful and compelling, vivid and full of life.