New York, My Village
by Uwem Akpan
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 02 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2021
A daring first novel in the great picaresque tradition—both buoyant comedy and devastating satire—by the author of the best-selling story collection Say You’re One of Them.
Ekong Udousoro is a Nigerian editor undertaking a reckoning with the brutal recent history of his homeland by curating a collection of stories about the Biafran War. He is thrilled when a publishing fellowship gives him the opportunity to continue his work in Manhattan while learning the ins and outs of publishing.
But while his sophisticated colleagues meet him with kindness and hospitality, he is soon exposed to the industry’s colder, ruthlessly commercial underbelly, boorish and hostile neighbors, and—beneath a superficial cosmopolitanism—a bedrock of white cultural superiority and racist assumptions about Africa, its peoples, and worst of all, its food. Haunted by the devastating darkness of civil war and searingly observant about the myriad ways that tribalism defines life everywhere from the villages of Africa to the villages within New York City, New York, My Village is nevertheless full of heart, hilarity, and hope.
About the Author: Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the PEN Open Book Award, and was picked by the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. He teaches creative writing at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
"A searing sendup of publishing, racial biases, and humanity's near-infinite capability to look away from the most troubling parts of ourselves, New York, My Village is that rare thing: a funhouse mirror that reflects back the truth. Uwem Akpan's debut novel maps the constantly shifting ground of grappling with prejudice and guilt--and how we might find connections, and compassion, nevertheless." - Celeste Ng, New York Times-bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
"I am in awe. I'm still trying to figure out how Uwem Akpan did it. He has transformed the isolating and exhausting intricacies of war trauma into a compulsively readable novel, at once hilarious, utterly harrowing, profoundly optimistic, and horrifically informative. Unforgettable characters, deeply realistic and “relatable” interpersonal conflicts, a contagious love of life, fresh insights into the crazy-making properties of racist ideology: New York, My Village has it all. And it's the great bedbug novel of New York City we have all been waiting for, some of us without knowing it! I adored this book. " - Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Idiot
"A superb story from a superb writer. The most compelling part of this debut novel of a Nigerian writer's immersion in American culture and the publishing world is the narrator's voice, utterly alive, frighteningly observant, deeply compassionate. Once that captivating voice grabs you, from the very first page, you never want to stop listening." - Father James Martin, SJ, bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and Learning to Pray
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 6 members
Ekong Udousoro is attempting to curate stories about the Biafra War. He winds up landing a fellowship to work alongside an American publisher in Manhattan where he attends meetings and works amongst others reviewing possible future contracts. New York, My Village seamlessly shifts between Ekong’s life in the present day to accounts of the war from his collection of stories and from his friends and family. It'd be nice to say that there were no similarities to be drawn between past and present but that simply isn't the case. We watch rampant racism happening amongst the well educated colleagues at the publishing house, which is the one place you would expect such a topic to be a non-issue. If racism is happening between members of a higher academic standing, what does that mean for every other place one has to go throughout their daily life. Between the strong fluent prose and the metaphors woven through the story there is so much to gain from reading this book. Uwem Akpan has managed to write a book that you want to read, even while it's making you uncomfortable, and its a book that stays with you a makes you think, hopefully inspiring the reader to outrage and action to help society evolve past the hateful and wrong attitudes of too many of its members. I cannot recommend this book enough. There is some potential for this book to go far and make a splash in our literary world and our hearts given enough people pick it up. It will certainly be worth your time. Thank you to netgalley and publisher for an advance e-copy for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my genuine reactions to reading this book.