Say You’re One of Them

Say You're One Of Them

Courtesy Photo (The Oprah Winfrey Show)

My comment follows soon. Meantime, you can check your nearest bookstore and join the craze. It’s a collection of five stories surrounding children and told through their eyes. My best yet is Story IV; Luxurious Hearses. I haven’t read the last one yet, which seems the most appreciated.  I think the hype about the book is worth it. The author, a Jesuit priest, did his work.

As you might already know, the ‘Queen of Talk’ has already fallen over herself about it. You might also know, whatever [book] she touches turns gold. And why not? Although I have no way to verify this I’ll say it anyways;  she claims to have the world’s biggest book club with 2 million members who, I want to presume, read each of the books she picks without fail.

I’m not in the club. So imagine the numbers my kind add up to on top of those in the club. And by the way, about 2 million is number of copies you need to have sold for NYT to declare you a bestseller. So we can rightly say OW has the power to single handedly turn one into an instant bestseller. And she has. There’s this too; copycatism is in. I’ve heard a couple of other visible faces (like Arianna Huffington, of the hugely successful online-only news site trying to start book clubs too.

Ok, ok, I’m going off and yet I said my comment follows soon. I’m holding off until tomorrow’s worldwide live webcast discussion about it. I can only imagine Uwem Akpan’s (the author) state of mind.


5 thoughts on “Say You’re One of Them

  1. Aha! OW has magic …. how else can you explain the success behind ths book called “The Secret”…. personally i found n still find it highly misleading …yet OW gave it a nod n it indeed sold !!!!

  2. With the risk of ‘hating’ on OW, how can one perosn single handedly make something a best seller? base don what literary skills? It’s not even just about the books, but I’m not into the hype…
    In any case I read the book a year ago, thankfully. I think the last story was written the best. As for the others, one of them was poorly written especially that the French imitation was just wrong. However, all the stories were sad and disturbing. Knowing that children go through such horrible life situations and more importantly feel so dejected, betrayed and abandonned left me very uneasy. Yet it is very original for them to be protagonists/narrators b/c it makes all the difference. What’s interetsing is that none of children’s naivety comes through in the book, all their thoughts and decisions are well crafted and very logical. Almost too grown up.
    P.S. I was referred to your blog by the unofficial mayor of Kampala, Mr. George Kagame and I really enjoy it.

    • Hey Y.S., thanks for ‘dropping’ by. GK (what a coincidence!) has told me quite a bit about you. But that’s not for here, as we like to say in Kampala. I read your argument on OW and making or breaking a book, and the hype. Personally, it’s my habit to stay away from books that seem to be on everyone’s lips because it’s hard to get through a contrary view in that moment. I broke the rule on this because of what I sensed OW was up to with this one, which is a celebration of good, in this case literary achievement, out of the continent whose image has been framed around doom. And that sense I picked early on was confirmed in a chat between her and Anderson Cooper why they were doing the live webcast discussion about it.
      Now, about whether she can single-handedly make a book a bestseller is up for debate. What is indisputable though is that more than anybody else in the ‘celebrity’ world, or outside, every book she’s fallen over herself about has gone on to do well, including many that hitherto were little known and poorly written and someone has pointed out a good example of The Secret.
      Like you, and many others, I agree the last story is the most emotive of all but personally my best is Luxurious Hearses. Because he takes more control of it, narrating the circumstances of the protagonist and bringing him in through dialogue whenever he deems it appropriate, he’s able to explore the ills that bedevil Nigeria (ethnicity, religion, oil) and give his perspective, albeit in a very veiled way.

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