Friday, July 18, 2008
Review: Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
I belong to a group on Library Thing called 'Reading Globally'. Each month they read a book based in a certain country, or by an author from that country. July's choice is Nigeria, which I was thinking of passing on -- because I'm so busy and I've already read Half of a Yellow Sun, which is the quintessential Nigerian read. But then....there was an article in our paper about a new book out by a Nigerian author...Say You're One of Them. So I changed my mind and read.
This book is a collection of short stories - 5 of them. From the slums of Kenya to the massacres in Rwanda to a treacherous bus ride through Nigeria, these stories are hair-raising one and all. I wish the world was such that no one could even imagine things horrible enough to write a book like this. But alas, this stuff didn't come out of thin air...I'm sure that these stories are thinly veiled fictional accounts of the truth. The worst part is, most of the stories are about the struggles of children in horrible circumstances like this. It's true that they highlight the resilience of children and the bond between siblings -- but I can't imagine my kids ever having to face such tragedy. I don't want to be naive, but really - it's a truth I wish I didn't know. The writing is great, but the content is highly disturbing.