Thursday, January 21, 2010

"An Ex-Mas Feast" from "Say You Were One of Them" by Uwem Akpan

  • Hardcover: 368 pages

  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (Jun 9 2008)

  • Language: English
"Say You Are One of Them" by Uwem Akpan (a former Jesuit Priest) is a short story collection (picked by Oprah for her book club) that pays tribute to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.

All the stories in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories and because they are all so stunning, revealing and heartbreaking I feel like they deserve to be written about individually rather than together, so I here I go with a few thoughts on the first story and a link to where you can read the story for yourself:

"An Ex-Mas Feast", about a very young child prostitute and set in a slum in Nairobi, can be a tough story to read and if you're feeling particularly fragile it is, perhaps, not a story you will want to read. It's about tough situations and people just trying to do their best with the rotten cards they've been dealt. Although the lives of these protagonists and their stories will leave you shaking your head, Akpan makes no judgement on his characters and neither must you. Although this is a short story, Akpan manages to bring up several important issues like the importance of education in finding a way out of poverty, hunger, survival, family bonds and the importance of family especially at festival time.

To read the full story in the New Yorker, please go here

For an indepth review of this particular story please go here


Sanjay said...

Hey there Lotus, you manage to find some amazing literary gems to read truly! I often wonder how you do it!
I happen to have glanced thru this story after reading your post, and I fully agree with you that based on this one example they probably stand on their own. I am truly impressed by how much more impact a short story can have given the format.
I would likely read this story in it's entirety when I am feeling stronger. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Thank you for sharing with us

Leela Soma said...

A great read. Akpan's short stories spans lots of countries in Africa.Children's stoic survival, their vulnerability and their play and humour is all drawn in beautiful prose. The harrowing story set in Rwanda is heart rending. Don't miss this book.

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Lotus Reads said...

@Sanj ~ Knowing you, I would tell you not to read this book. All the five stories in this book are narrated by children and they go through some horrific things. I learned a lot from this wonderful collection of stories but I will be the first to admit that it's not everyone's cup of tea!

@Leela ~ You nailed it, thanks! :)