Author: Uwem Akpan
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Fiction/Short Story
Year Published: 2008
Number of Pages: 258
Date Read: 14/07/2017
Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament 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 facade 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.
Uwem Akpan's debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.
Rating anthologies can be such a taxing thing, because more often than not, I find myself torn as to whether to award the collection five stars based on the brilliance of one particular story, or awarding it less as a result of a story not quite as enthralling as the preceding ones. So I end up rating the collection by the number of stories I enjoyed out of the lot.
This book contains five stories set in five different African countries. My favourite stories were My Parents' Bedroom (Rwanada), Fattening for Gabon (Benin), and Luxurious Hearses (Nigeria).
I didn't quite like the fact that in some stories, it felt like there was no flow of thought and the story's plot was moving at a slow pace, only to end so abruptly, leaving me confused and frustrated.
However, I did like how the author included a mixture of languages, even though I didn't understand a word of them. I commend the author for not sticking to familiar territory and branching out to write about the tragedies faced by children in different parts of this continent we think we are so familiar with. It honestly left me pitiful for those people who have had to face the harsh realities of tribal wars, religious wars, poverty, and human trafficking at such young ages. Although it's a highly depressing read, I recommend it . You can purchase it here on Amazon.
Thank you for reading!
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