Say You’re One Of Them

2 07 2010

As the car pulled away with Maisha, our mourning attracted kids from the gangs. They circled the food, and I threw away the bottle and joined my family again. We struggled to stuff the food into our mouths, to stuff the bags back inside the shack, but the kids made off with the balloons and the cards.
I hid among a group of retreating kids and slipped away. I ran through traffic, scaled the road divider, and disappeared into Nairobi. My last memory of my family was of the twins burping and giggling.

Say You’re One Of Them is written by Nigerian Jesuit Priest, Uwem Akpan. It is a compilation of short-stories from five countries in Africa told from a child’s point of view. All five are faring through war, religious and tribe torn nations.

Truth be told: If you are picking up a book of short stories and want a light read, this book is not for you. If you like to read a book that includes children with happy endings, again, this is not for you. But for those who would like to persevere and triumph over disheartening stories, this will indubitably captivate you.

Although the narrators are children, it largely appeals to adults with its unmarked thought provoking variety that is both harrowing and heart wrenching.  Its bracing stylistics presents a nice interlude as compared to all the other books we usually read. It also displays the power of brutality and kindness, humanizing those who live through constant hostilities.

Though the voice of each story comes off as ponderous, Say You’re One Of Them is never watered down.  Seen with eyes that are too young to understand, it equally elevates the adverse inhumanities brought about by disagreements and greed. And at the same time it reminds us of the small defiance’s that make for big distinctions.

With such realistic characters, Akpan’s compelling, life affirming and tragic novel is masterfully told through remarkable range; something I can’t recommend highly enough.

Notes:

Say You’re One Of Them consists of the following short-stories:

An Ex-Mas Feast
Fattening For Gabon
What Language Is That?
Luxurious Hearses
My Parent’s Bedroom

Published by Little Brown Books

ISBN-10: 031611378 and/ or ISBN-13: 978-0316113786

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