Monday, September 21, 2009

Oprah Winfrey picks Nigerian author Uwem Akpan's "Say You're One of Them" for book club

Uwem Akpan said he was "humbled" to know that his debut collection of short stories titled "Say You're One Of Them" was picked by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

Say You're One of Them becomes the first book of short stories to be added to Oprah's book club and is her 63rd book club selection. She said the stories left her stunned and profoundly moved.

The Nigerian author who runs a parish in Lagos said he was "very, very humbled" to have Say You're One Of Them chosen by Oprah. Due to work with his parish Uwem said he's been too busy to work on another book but that the church still supports his writing.

"I have permission to write, but I do not need an imprimatur from the church -- that is more for people who are writing about theology and philosophy. They see that I am writing fiction and assume it is made up," Uwem said.

"Don't forget that Jesus was a priest and a poet."

With almost two million online members. Oprah's book club is the biggest in the world and books chosen for the club usually end up becoming bestsellers.

Uwem Akpan studied English and philosophy at Creighton and Gonzaga universities then went on to study theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

In 2003, he was ordained as a Jesuit priest and received his masters degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006.

Say You're One Of Them is a collection of five short stories published in 2008. The stories are from the perspective of an African child that captures the resilience of children growing up in the face of unimaginable devastation.

Times Live

Related stories: Anderson Cooper reports on Uwem Akpan

Chimamanda Adichie on African Voices

Nigeria's Wole Soyinka on CNN's special African Voices

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