Oprah Chooses 'Say You're One of Them' for her 63rd Book Club Pick

'Say You're One of Them,' a short-story collection, joins Oprah's book club.

ByABC News
September 18, 2009, 10:45 AM

Sept. 18, 2009 — -- Talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey today selected Uwem Akpan's debut collection of short stories, "Say You're One of Them," as her 63rd book-club selection.

This is her first time selecting a collection of short stories.

The collection of five short stories is set in Nigeria, the author's native country, as well as Rwanda and other African countries and focuses on the lives of children living in distress amid war and religious conflict.

Each are told from the perspective of an African child protagonist and depicts "Africa in its glory and grace as well as its horror and pain," Winfrey said.

One of the stories in the collection, "An Ex-Mas Feast," was featured in The New Yorker's debut fiction issue in 2005 and "My Parents' Bedroom," another story in the collection, was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for The Caine Prize for African Writing.

"In over 60 books I have never chosen a collection of short stories because usually short stories leave you wanting something," Oprah said today from her live set in New York's Central Park.

"This is a first for me because each one of these five stories just left me gasping," she said, encouraging viewers to "go get a copy of it today."

Akpan, the first-time Nigerian author, was in the crowd at the Oprah taping today but did not speak.

In an interview with his publisher, Hachette Book Group, Akpan said that he hoped his work would bring attention to the lives of children in need.

"I would like to see a book about how children are faring in these endless conflicts in Africa," said Akpan, who is an ordained priest who received a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. "The world is not looking."

"I want their voices heard, their faces seen."

And if the success of Oprah's pervious book club picks is any indication, Akpan's dreams will be realized.