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Publisher's Summary

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.
©2009 Uwem Akpan (P)2009 Hachette
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Critic Reviews

"All the promise and heartbreak of Africa today are brilliantly illuminated in this debut collection." ( Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Sophia on 05-02-11

Highly Recommended!!!

This book invokes so many different emotions. I makes you wonder how much of it is fiction because the narrators did such a wonderful job at reading the story that one would think that they were telling their own life stories. I love this book and I recommend it.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Paul Z. on 06-09-10

Ugly but Beautiful

I picked this up because of a review I heard on NPR, not because of anything to do with Oprah, but I almost feel like I must have listened to a different book than the other reviewers. The stories were fresh and engaging. Akpan is a morbid O'Henry, or maybe a Rhole Dahl (as in his adult stories, not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). If I had any criticisms of this book they would be that first, I knew where each train wreck was headed (though like a train wreak I could not look away) and second that I could see where someone could have a hard time with the ascent of the first narrator (though it makes sense for an African to narrate a story of an African child). I loved this book.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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