Last Friday, Oprah unveiled the latest title to receive her official book club seal of approval, choosing a collection of short stories, Say You’re One of Them, by Nigerian writer Uwem Akpan. The relatively obscure title was a surprise choice to many in the publishing industry.
While larger retailers such as Indigo and Costco are likely scrambling to stock the book, most of the Canadian indie retailers Q&Q Omni talked to on Monday weren’t in any hurry to do likewise. In fact, most said they don’t even plan to order copies unless customers specifically ask.
Chris Hall, inventory manager at McNally Robinson’s Winnipeg store, said he doesn’t expect there will be much demand for the book, simply because it was such an unusual choice. “[Say You’re One of Them] has a few things going against it,” he said, noting that it is reputed to be a difficult read, both in terms of its harrowing subject matter and prose style.
Christopher Smith, from Collected Works in Ottawa, said that his customers don’t tend to be influenced by Oprah’s choices all that much anyway, especially if the book is “pulled from the depths” like this one was. Smith added that the book had already been selling steadily, if not rapidly, in his store prior to Oprah’s selection.
Originally published in June 2008, Say You’re One of Them contains five short stories written from the perspective of children in troubled regions of Africa. It is the first African work to be selected for Oprah’s book club.