Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan Abacus, HK$104 The 2007 Caine Prize for African fiction must have attracted a bumper crop if Uwem Akpan's offering was only good enough for the long list. Say You're One of Them, comprising five stories, focuses on horror and violence. Narrated largely through the eyes of children, this is horror and violence full of pathos but not entirely devoid of hope. Setting his tales in various African countries, Akpan stares down the worst that life offers without blinking. Fattening for Gabon begins with the matter-of-fact sentence: 'Selling your child or nephew could be more difficult than selling other kids.' How nonchalant is that 'could'? Akpan's prose is spare and direct. In Luxurious Hearses a young Nigerian Muslim, Jubril, tries to escape the religious conflict engulfing his home city of Khamfi. Travelling to his father's village, he notes that his fellow refugees 'looked like drowning men, grabbing on to whatever they could before they were swept away by the crisis'. Akpan inserts plenty of humour into the despair. In An Ex-Mas Feast, the mother, frustrated at her daughter's silence, wonders: 'What insects are eating her brain?' If you don't read Akpan I might ask the same about you.