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Oprah pick Uwem Akpan in the Southland tonight

November 19, 2009 |  9:08 am

Uwemakpan_nov09

Oprah Book Club fans in the Southland can see Uwem Akpan this evening at Loyola Marymount University’s William H. Hannon Library. The author is set to appear at 5:30 p.m.

Akpan, a native of Nigeria, is the author of Oprah's latest book pick, "Say You're One of Them." The book marked two firsts for Oprah's Book Club: It was the first set in Africa and the first short story collection.

"He is the author of the most powerful collection of short stories that I believe I've ever read," Oprah said on her book club broadcast.

Akpan is a Jesuit priest who received a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan. After earning his degree, he has returned to Nigeria, where he serves at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja-Lagos, Nigeria.

"I started off going into the priesthood," Akpan said on the "Oprah" broadcast, "and the writing came later. For me, the two are very intertwined, right now, connected."

It is not Akpan's first visit to Southern California. Last year he appeared at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.  "Say You're One of Them" was a finalist for the L.A. Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Uwem Akpan. Credit: Comfort Ukpong / Little, Brown & Co.

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