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Oprah anoints story writer

September 19, 2009|Associated Press

Oprah Winfrey has blessed the book world's eternal underdog: the short story.

Publishing's surest hitmaker announced Friday that her latest pick was Uwem Akpan's debut collection "Say You're One of Them," practically guaranteeing hundreds of thousands of sales, numbers generally unthinkable for short stories beyond works by Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever and other giants of the art form.

Akpan, 38, is a native of Nigeria and an ordained Jesuit priest who in 2006 received a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan. His work is set in Nigeria, Rwanda and other African countries and often centers on children in distress.

Each of the separate stories in "Say You're One of Them" is told from the perspective of an African child, the narratives touching on the hardships and joys of growing up in Africa.

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