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  Uwem Akpan

Uwem Akpan was born in the village of Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of East Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. “My Parents’ Bedroom,” a story included in Say You’re One of Them, his first collection, was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for The Caine Prize for African Writing. He serves at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja-Lagos, Nigeria.

Each story in the jubilantly acclaimed Say You’re One of Them pays tribute to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances. A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a façade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees — a microcosm of today’s Africa — a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends, the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.

Through the sanitized windows of our televisions and newspapers, the truth about the pervasive poverty and violence that exists in so many African nations comes only in fits and starts, clouded by physical distance and apathy toward what we may feel we cannot relate to or change. In Say You're One of Them, Akpan brings to life the issues facing children in one of the most beleaguered places on earth, so that their voices will no longer go unheard. . . . short bio
Uwem Akpan was born in the village of Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of East Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. “My Parents’ Bedroom,” a story included in Say You’re One of Them, his first collection, was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for The Caine Prize for African Writing . . . full bio

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