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Oprah magic for Man of God

September 22, 2009

Nigerian author Uwem Akpan, who is a Jesuit priest, said he was “humbled” that his debut collection of short stories was chosen by influential U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

Oprah picked “Say You’re One Of Them” as her 63rd book club selection, the first time she has chosen a book of short stories, saying these stories “left me stunned and profoundly moved.”

The collection, published in 2008, includes five separate stories from the perspective of an African child that were described as capturing the resilience of children growing up in the face of unimaginable devastation.

Uwem Akpan, who runs a parish in Lagos, told Entertainment Weekly that he was “very, very humbled” to be chosen by Oprah.

He said he was not currently working on another book as his parish had been so busy but the church supports his writing with no conflict of interest between writing and being a priest.

“I have permission to write, but I do not need an imprimatur from the church — that is more for people who are writing about theology and philosophy. They see that I am writing fiction and assume it is made up,” he said.

“Don’t forget that Jesus was a priest and a poet.”

Oprah’s book club is the biggest in the world with almost two million online members and books chosen for Oprah’s book club invariably  skyrocket to the top of the U.S. bestseller lists. Akpan studied philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities then studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. His story collection was first published last year by Little Brown & Co, which is part of the Hachette Book Group that is owned  by French publishing company Largardere.

Umem Akpan picture: Courtesy of


This is one of the top 10 stupidest things I’ve ever heard of. Nobody with any sense cares what she has to say or what she thinks.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

This is another good news concerning Nigeria and Nigerians. A welcome break from the avalanche of negativity.

Posted by uche | Report as abusive

Iam a writer that has no means of publishement.I has writen a lot,but my own problem is lack of finaance to….,All my books are still there in hand writing.

Posted by magnus | Report as abusive

Oprah is a waste of space and all she is interested in doing is passing judgement on others like she some kind of know it all and only insecure or people with very low esteems would bother watching such oprah.

Posted by Nduka Tolefe | Report as abusive

Jesus was a gentle giant and a Jew!

Nigeria is a hugely rich and diverse country – plagued by corruption.

What are the chances of a woman being elected President of Nigeria?

Posted by Marg. | Report as abusive

This is a good story. He is brave enough to write a book to be published and to be shown on Oprah’s show.

Posted by Anna | Report as abusive

All of you negative people just don’t like Oprah because she better off than you so just back off and move on with lfe.

Posted by Chloe | Report as abusive

Congratulations, Fr. Uwem Akpan. Thanks for bringing some hope to a seemingly hopeless Nation.
Magnus, please start your publishing journey by typing your manuscripts.

Posted by Bruce UGIOMOH | Report as abusive

Jesus was neither a priest nor a poet. Jesus was a preacher of the true gospel and never condoned fiction nor earthly recognition by unbelievers. Mr. Uwem, flee from the wrath to come. You are not representing Jesus Christ. Repent and turn from religion.
Hebrews 10:10-12
(10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
(12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Posted by Apostle Edward Ssewanyana | Report as abusive iter.htm

This is great news and I am very much looking forward to Fr Uwem Akpan’s appearance in Durban during our 13th Time of the Writer festival March 9-13 2010

Hope to see you there!!!!!!!!!

Posted by DurbanISGrand | Report as abusive

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