Oprah Winfrey announced her new Book Club selection today and the choice, as many had predicted, is Uwem Akpan’s debut story collection, Say You’re One of Them. EW critic Jennifer Reese had named Say You’re One of Them, made up of five fictional accounts of modern Africa from the point of view of child protagonists, as her top fiction title of last year. “The book should be depressing, but the blazing humanity of the characters and the brilliance of Akpan’s artistry make this one of the year’s most exhilarating reads,” Reese wrote in her review. Expect Akpan, a charismatic Nigerian-born Jesuit priest, to make a striking impression on Oprah’s audience — and to echo the host’s long-standing interest in the often strife-torn continent; she has already built two schools for South African youth.
The selection is another windfall for Akpan’s publisher, Hachette, which is already flush from the success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series as well as this week’s publication of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s memoir, True Compass. A spokeswoman for Hachette’s Little, Brown confirms that it’s releasing 650,000 copies of an Oprah edition of Say You’re One of Them.