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Extended Audio Sample Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,399 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Uwem Akpan Narrator: Dion Graham, Robin Miles Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Uwem Akpan’s stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few readers 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 can’t be granted. 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.

In the second of his stories published in a New Yorker special fiction issue, Akpan takes us far beyond what we thought we knew about the tribal conflict in Rwanda. The story is told by a young girl, who, with her little brother, witnesses the worst possible scenario between parents. They are asked to do the previously unimaginable in order to protect their children. This singular collection will also take the reader inside Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia, revealing in beautiful prose the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa.

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

  • “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.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “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.”

    New York Times

  • “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.”


  • “Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory, and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book.”

    O, The Oprah 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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “This brilliant collection of short stories by Nigerian-born Akpan invites listeners into a world of beauty and heartbreak where young people in the throes of adolescence struggle to survive harrowing violence and tragedy.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “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…to bring to light topics ranging from selling children in Gabon to the Muslim versus Christian battles in Ethiopia. The characters face choices that most American high school students will never have to…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.”

    School Library Journal

  • “Haunting prose…A must-read.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jayne | 2/20/2014

    " TOO bleak for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Michelle | 2/20/2014

    " The stories start alright but the endings are awful. Just leaves you hanging. The only stories I liked were the last couple. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Cyndee | 2/14/2014

    " wow - this is a tough one... don't know if i can get through it, it's so raw and real. a very rough look at poverty and survival in the third world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by My Bookshelf | 2/3/2014

    " I borrowed a copy of this from my Mom, who read it at the behest of Oprah, and read it a few months after I moved back to NY from California. It's an incredibly sad book, but well-written. Luxurious Hearses is by far the best story in the collection. "

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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.