Title: Say You're One of Them
Author: Uwem Akpan
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Synopsis (from book): Uwem Akpan's first published short story, "An Ex-Mas Feast" is a portrait of a family living together in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya, and their attemps to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. "My Parent's Bedroom" is a Rwandan girl's accout of her family's struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. In "Fattening for Gabon", a brother and sister cope with their uncle's attempt to sell them into slavery. "Luxurious Hearses" creates a microcosm of Africa within a busload of refuggees and introduces us to a Muslim boy who summons his faith to bear a trecherous ride through Nigeria. "What Language is That?" reveals the emotional toll of the Christian-Muslim conflict in Ethiopia through the eyes of childhood friends. Every story is a testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing situations our planet can offer.
My Review: I was actually surprised by how striking the stories in this book truly are. Some of the dialogue is a little challenging, due to the way the author has the characters speak (often mixed in with native languages or French and English), but once you get used to it, you can really understand what they are saying. The stories are touching, but shocking at the same time - especially the last two in the book "Luxurious Hearses" and "My Parent's Bedroom". They are all told from the perspective of smallish children (10 years or younger), except for Hearses, which is told from the perspective of a 16 year old boy. I did enjoy reading it, and the authors writes generally pretty good. Each of the short stories are very different - each covers a different country in Africa, with families in different circumstances, though they are all mostly poor. Betrayal, humiliation, horror, anger, resentment, confusion, sadness, desperation, and many more emotions are involved in each story. A very good book overall. You kind of connect with the main characters, especially in the two longer stories - Hearses and Gabon. I would recommend this to anyone.