Uwem Akpan's stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few readers will feel they've ever encountered 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 , 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 . 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 , , and , 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. Bonus ebook content: includes an interview with "The New Yorker," additional photos of the author, discussion questions and topics, and a link to a music download.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Uwem Akpan’s debut story collection unfolds with grace and devastation. Five stories, each set in a different part of Africa, make up the book, and they contain some grim scenarios—a brother and sister realize they’re going to be sold into slavery after their parents die of AIDS, a girl hides in a bedroom while genocide unfolds around her. But amidst the carnage, there are also plenty of quietly moving moments. Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest, puts us right in the middle of the action with a sense of suspense, an eye for detail, and a dash of down-to-earth poetry. His writing is both unflinching and kind, and made us understand the importance of empathy in our own lives.
Nigerian-born Jesuit priest Akpan transports the reader into gritty scenes of chaos and fear in his rich debut collection of five long stories set in war-torn Africa. "An Ex-mas Feast" tells the heartbreaking story of eight-year-old Jigana, a Kenyan boy whose 12-year-old sister, Maisha, works as a prostitute to support her family. Jigana's mother quells the children's hunger by having them sniff glue while they wait for Maisha to earn enough to bring home a holiday meal. In "Luxurious Hearses," Jubril, a teenage Muslim, flees the violence in northern Nigeria. Attacked by his own Muslim neighbors, his only way out is on a bus transporting Christians to the south. In "Fattening for Gabon," 10-year-old Kotchikpa and his younger sister are sent by their sick parents to live with their uncle, Fofo Kpee, who in turn explains to the children that they are going to live with their prosperous "godparents," who, as Kotchikpa pieces together, are actually human traffickers. 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. Read a web-exclusive q&a with Uwem Akpan at www.publishersweekly.com/akpan.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I particularly like the author's humorous style of writing. The characters and their stories are captivating, though the lack of conclusiveness deprives the reader a climax. The woes, perils of poverty and war in Africa are clearly illustrated in this book.pp
Very captivating, each story was unique.
Great book of stories
I enjoyed reading this book, though the topics written about were not light but invoked many feelings and emotions.