Uwem Akpan (born May 19, 1971) is a Nigerian Jesuit priest and writer. He is the author of Say You’re One of Them (2008), a collection of five stories (each set in a different African country) published by Little, Brown & Company. It won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and was picked by the Oprah Winfrey Book Club on September 17, 2009.
Uwem Akpan was born in the southern Nigerian village of Ikot Akpan Eda; his parents were teachers. He and his three brothers grew up speaking both English and Annang. He joined the Jesuit order at the age of 19, in 1990, and in 2000 studied theology in Nairobi, Kenya. He became a priest on July 19, 2003; he later earned an M.F.A. degree in creative writing at the University of Michigan in the United States. He has also studied theology at Creighton University and philosophy at Gonzaga University.
In 2009 Oprah Winfrey recommended Uwem Akpan's Say You’re One of Them as her 63rd influential book club selection. Akpan said he was humbled to learn his debut collection of short stories had caught Winfrey's eye. Winfrey said that Say You're One of Them (published by Little, Brown, 2008), "left [her] stunned and profoundly moved." The five short stories give voice to an African child growing up in the face of incredible adversity. Asked whether there was a conflict between being a priest and being a writer, he said he liked being both: "Both give me energy. Gaudium et Spes, a key Vatican II document, makes it very clear that the joys and anguish of the world are the joys and anguish of the Church. The Jesuits have a rich tradition of writing and involvement in social issues."
- Say You're One of Them. Hachette. 2008. ISBN 978-0-316-11378-6.
- Antes de ir a Gabón. Intermón Oxfam Editorial. ISBN 978-84-8452-654-4.
- Charles McGrath, "Channeling the Voices of Africa’s Lost Children", New York Times, July 3, 2008.
- "Between Two Continents", Cressida Leyshon interview with Uwem Akpan, New Yorker, June 13, 2005.
- National Catholic Reporter, 2 October 2009, 4.
- "The Roar of Africa's Literary Lion," The Tablet, 21 June 2008, 12.
- "100 Greatest Movies, TV Shows, Albums, Books, Characters, Scenes, Episodes, Songs, Dresses, Music Videos, and Trends that entertained us over the past 10 years", Entertainment Weekly (1079/1080), pp. 74-84. December 11, 2009.
- www.UwemAkpan.com, author's official website.
- Say You're One of Them, official website (includes excerpt, author bio, etc.).
- "As Africa’s Horrors Rage, Suffer the Little Children", New York Times, review by Janet Maslin, June 27, 2008.
- "Unflinching Evil in 'Say You're One of Them'", NPR review by Maureen Corrigan, June 19, 2008.
- Book Review of Say You're One of Them, Thinking Faith, reviewed by Isidore Bonabom SJ, a Jesuit priest from Ghana. 30 September 2008.
- Book Review of Say You're One of Them, Joseph Adero Ngala, Director of People for Peace in Africa (PPA) in Nairobi, Kenya. This review originally was published in Colleagues Home & Abroad Regional News (PPA) on 9 September 2008.