Say You’re One of Them, published in 2008 is a collection of five stories, each told from the perspective of a young child growing up amidst immense challenges. Each of the five stories is set in a different country.
Amidst all the adversity and difficulties they face, the child narrators are able to share their spirit, endurance, laughter, and courage. In their stories, one is able to relate to an Africa that exists beyond the pictures of war, famine and poverty that so often fill the media.
The stories explore different worlds – about a young Rwandan girl who watches her Hutu father kill her mother because she’s a Tutsi, about modern day child trafficking in Benin, and one that describes the life of a 12-year old Kenyan prostitute whose earnings take care of the rest of the family.
As a review by the Oprah Winfrey Book Club succinctly puts it, “Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book.”
The book has received numerous awards and award nominations, including the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region), the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and the 2009 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.