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Uwem Akpan was born in Ikot Akpan Eda, in southern Nigeria, in 1971. The sons of teachers, he and his three brothers grew up speaking both English and Annang. When he was nineteen, Uwem joined the Jesuit order. Three years later, he was sent to Nebraska by his superiors to study the humanities at Campion House, a scholarly Jesuit community attached to Creighton University, followed by two years of philosophy at Gonzaga University in Washington State. In 2000 he moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, after which he was ordained a Jesuit priest. The following year he returned to the United States to pursue a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.
His first story published in the United States, ‘An Ex-Mas Feast’, appeared in the 2005 debut fiction issue of The New Yorker while he was an MFA student in Ann Arbor. The following year The New Yorker published a second story, ‘My Parents’ Bedroom’, which was a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing.
These stories are included in his first collection, Say You’re One of Them, which was published in June by Little, Brown and Company and was most recently longlisted for the Guardian First Book Prizein the United Kingdom.
Akpan currently lives in Zimbabwe, where he teaches at a seminary in Harare.
Source: African Success.