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New York, My Village

A Novel

by Uwem Akpan

New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan X
New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan
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  • Published Nov 2021
    400 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 21 member reviews
for New York, My Village
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  • Ora J. (Anacortes, WA)
    New York, My Village
    In the novel New York, My Village the author, Uwem Akpan, follows the experiences of a young Black African adult adjusting to life and work in New York City. Ekong Otis Udousoro, a citizen of Nigeria, had been a university lecturer of literature and managing editor of a book company in his home country before receiving a scholarship to study publishing in NYC.
    Ekong's journey begins with the challenge of satisfying the unending demands of red tape needed to get out of Nigeria and into the US. Redundant documents, unreliable references and demeaning interviews question his worthiness, diminishing his desire to accept the scholarship.
    The author's creative use of first-person narrative transforms each detail of Ekong's life into a conflict. The bedbug infested apartment, his need to share food, the loneliness of working in a white-world and the wall of hate between Black Africans and American Blacks; each encounter reveals Ekong's real world experience.
  • Cassandra W. (Alameda, CA)
    Simply the best!
    Written with beautiful prose, we follow Ekong Udousro from Nigeria to New York City where he has been given a fellowship in a small publishing house where he can continue working on a collection of stories of the Biafran War. He is both thrilled at the opportunity to learn the business of publishing and yet overwhelmed by the organization politics and the undercurrent of racism and white privilege. He must grapple with conflicting emotions of joy and home sickness as he struggles to fit in to an alien culture. While Akpan deals with serious themes of oppression and war, his writing is never depressing. I enjoyed "New York, My Village" and would highly recommend this book. Akpan is a gifted writer and a fresh voice to be read.
  • Terrie J. (Eagan, MN)
    Excellent cultural read
    Wow...what a story! I would highly recommend this book. It spanned cultures, cuisines, friendships and an intro to New York through new eyes. The story only spanned a few months, but was developed through current and previous times. This book was well written and should provide great discussion for book clubs. I don't think it's a book for young readers, but should interest the masses. I really enjoyed it and read it in a couple of days.
  • Lucy S. (Ann Arbor, MI)
    New York, My City drew me in from the very first page. Every facet of this humorous, smart, brilliantly satirical novel is so finely tuned that to read it is to experience New York City along with Ekong Udousoro; the smells, the tastes, the lights. This book is a well delivered indictment of the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, the racism in American, and the tribalism in Nigeria as the effect every aspect of Udousoro's daily life.

    Uwem Akpan's sentences are so well crafted that they have the power to make you squirm in disgust, recoil in horror, and laugh with delight in equal measure.

    I loved this book!
  • Sonia F. (Freehold, NJ)
    Love New York, Hate New York.
    This novel made me laugh, cry and laugh again. Starting from the Nigerian embassy, Ekong, a Nigerian editor has a fellowship to work in Manhattan, NY to curate his anthology of the Biafran war and at the same time learn the ins and outs of publishing.

    I was drawn into this novel for many reasons; I love a good immigrant story. As far as I am concerned, you change the names and the stories are the same; I remember looking at the display of malnourished children on television as a result of the Biafra war; and, as a New Yorker, I couldn't wait to discover what the protagonist's take on the city is. Most of all, being a huge fan of historical fiction, I wanted to know more about the Biafran war.

    The historical context was laid out from the first chapter when Ekong went to get a visa of which it took him several attempts. Ekong was aghast at the condescending clerk at the embassy who belittled him and his tribe.
    Through Ekong's encounter with the clerk, I learnt that Biafra was a secessionist state in West Africa that existed from 1967-1970 when Ekong curated his story. I learnt that Biafra was formed as a result Of the nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people of Nigeria leading to the Nigerian civil war.

    After Biafra declared its independence, war ensued, defeating Biafra and reuniting the two states. The historical context brought back memories of being told by my parents "don't waste the food, children in Biafra are starving." I thought of the Biafran flag which is half of a yellow sun and wondered about the significance.
    Ekong had bouts of rude awakenings in NY; he lived in a small apartment which he thought did not look like those he saw on CNN, and to add salt to injury, the apartment was filled with bedbugs of which the poor man thought he had AIDS after been bitten all over his body. This entire bed bugs scene was totally hilarious.

    The saddest discovery for Ekong was the different types of racism among blacks Americans, African Americans, blacks and Africans. For me as a black woman, it was an eye opener of the many ways prejudices can be felt.
    Ekong was met with kindness by his colleagues at the publishing house, but underneath it all was stereotyping of him as an African, his foods, language and tribalism was all under attack. Underneath the publishing industry was a wall of white superiority and control. Ekong found that he could not escape the darkness of the Civil war and the ways in which tribalism defined him from his villages of Africa to the villages Within New York City.

    A captivating read, filled with humor, sharp wit and brutal satire. Through it all, there is compassion
    and human connectedness. Bravo Uwem Akpan! Your unique prose jumps off the pages.
  • Laurie S., Minneapolis, MN
    Humor can reveal our deepest faults and greatest divides.
    New York, My Village is not an easy read, and I can't say I enjoyed it; but, oh my, it made me think and feel deeply about our shared humanity. The story illustrates the dangerous parallels between American racism and Nigerian tribalism. Like the classic war novel Catch-22, Akpan makes great use of dark humor and chaotic situations to reveal the importance of bringing all voices to the table to share their stories. Storytelling is hard when it reveals trauma, guilt, and shame, but these same stories can build our relationships and rescue us from ourselves.
  • Gina T. (Natick, MA)
    Authentic and original
    New York, my village was a completely immersive experience.
    Akpan has a unique and authentic voice. His tale of an African in contemporary NYC was both tragic and humorous. As someone who has grown up in NY he nailed the thrill and majesty of nyc as well as the nuances of life as an outsider.
    So many books of late have discussed BLM and some readers have had their fill ( sadly)
    This raw authentic voice should be heard. I laughed, wept, scratched alongside the main character. I could smell the food, hear the train and feel the heat,
    So well done. I highly recommend it for readers still hungry for a different perspective of racism in the US.
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