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Download What Language Is That: (A Story from Say You’re One of Them) Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample What Language Is That: (A Story from Say You’re One of Them) Audiobook, 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: Robin Miles Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2008 ISBN: 9781600243028
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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. Akpan’s voice is a literary miracle, rendering lives of almost unimaginable deprivation and terror into stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

In “What Language Is That?” two young Ethiopian girls are best friends until religious riots break out in the city. Suddenly their parents tell them they cannot speak to each other anymore because one is Muslim and the other is Christian.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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"
  • ...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
  • 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] 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • “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

  • 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)
  • “Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “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…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

  • Nominated for the Story Prize for Short Fiction
  • 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
  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection in 2009
  • Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 2/19/2014

    " My life is easy compared to what those in Africa and other third world countries have to bear- also, children are sheltered here...not so much in other locations in the world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 2/6/2014

    " Wow. This book broke my heart. I know about the different conflicts covered and the atrocities that go on, but to read them from children's points of view really made me think. I had some nightmares because of this one, but I think it is worth a read because people need to know what is going on if there is to be change. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joan Dwoskin | 2/5/2014

    " Heartbreaking, violent, scarring stories of poverty and civil war in Africa. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie Mendel | 1/31/2014

    " This book is a collection of stories told from a child's perspective. The stories surround poverty stricken families and the means taken to make ends meet. I found it sad and disheartenig. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Madelle | 1/24/2014

    " This is a heart wrenching book composed of five stories about life in Africa written by a Nigerian Jesuit priest. It is beautifully written although at times very hard to read. The tales while fiction, are based on fact and do reflect the difficulty for so many, children and adults, who live in Africa. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy Richard | 1/19/2014

    " I wasn't as impressed with this book as I thought I would be. I loved the fact it was set in Africa and the fact that I remembered my very basic Swahili was pretty amazing within itself....but I just couldn't feel connected to the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tamara Perkins | 1/17/2014

    " You can not read this book and not continue to think about the characters. What makes the book so haunting is the thought that these are real life scenerios. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ania | 1/13/2014

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruthanne Davis | 12/28/2013

    " Thought-provoking short stories that stay with you long after you've read them. Highly recommended. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Megan Gutowski | 12/15/2013

    " I've read better... but the book definitely delivers a powerful message. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison | 11/28/2013

    " this book was excellent!! very sad and depressing, but a must read. 3 different stories about children in africa and their hardships....need to read something light afterwards though...some parts were tough to read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy Hardison | 10/9/2013

    " I read the first story. It was troubling. Not sure if I will keep reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ntebaleng Matlala | 1/17/2013

    " I'm not used to reading short stories so this was a bit strange for me. I think the stories were a real eye opener to the history and probably the reality of Africa. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristin Comeaux | 1/3/2013

    " This book was very difficult for me to read. Some of the stories were hard to understand due to the wording. Not to mention the theme is heart breaking. I was extremely frustrated how one of the stories ended! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheila Young | 12/26/2012

    " An eye opener for anyone unaware of what is going on in Africa and the plight of children everywhere. If you deal with trauma in your work or personal life, read something else. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kerry | 11/22/2012

    " This was a tough but enlightening read. The author set out to increase awareness of the challenging plight of African children across the continent. As he says, "The world is not looking. I think fiction allows us to sit for a while with people we would rather not meet." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Salela | 10/25/2012

    " I've read the first (seminal) story and it was awesome. Painful, but awesome. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cai | 10/17/2012

    " This book is harrowing and very informative about life in Africa, though I was not taken with the writing which was sometimes, oddly, boring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cynthia | 9/2/2012

    " These stories are superbly written, but the subject matter is horrific. I will never forget these stories, but they are not for the faint of heart. I'm going to up my rating to 5 stars because I consider it a must-read, if you can bear it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nawz Z. | 5/4/2012

    " A fantastic book of the obstacles young African children face each day. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Love | 12/3/2011

    " Listened to this on CD. I really could not get into it. Felt maybe if I had read it instead might have gotten more out of it. Thus two star rating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Taylor | 11/1/2011

    " I enjoyed this book. It was an emotionally hard read told through the perspective of children throughout Africa but I would recommend it. "

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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

Robin Miles, also known as Violet Grey, is an accent specialist and award-winning narrator of over two hundred audiobooks. She was named the 2008 Best Voice in Fiction & Classics for The Pirate’s Daughter and 2008 Best Voice in Biography & History for Brother, I’m Dying.