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Our Kind of People: A Continent's Challenge, a Country's Hopeby Uzodinma Iweala
Synopses & Reviews
In 2005 Uzodinma Iweala stunned readers and critics alike with Beasts of No Nation, his debut novel about child soldiers in West Africa. Now his return to Africa has produced Our Kind of People, a non-fiction account of the AIDS crisis every bit as startling and original. HIV/AIDS has been reported as one of the most destructive diseases in recent memory—tearing apart communities and ostracizing the afflicted. But the emphasis placed on death, destruction, and despair hardly captures the many and varied effects of the epidemic, or the stories of the extraordinary people who live and die under its watch.
Our Kind of People opens our minds to these stories, introducing a new set of voices and altering the way we speak and think about disease. Iweala embarks on a remarkable journey through his native Nigeria, meeting individuals and communities that are struggling daily to understand both the impact and meaning of HIV/AIDS. He speaks with people from all walks of life—the ill and the healthy, doctors, nurses, truck drivers, sex workers, shopkeepers, students, parents, and children. Their testimonies are by turns uplifting, alarming, humorous, and surprising, and always unflinchingly candid. Integrating his own experiences with these voices, Iweala creates at once a deeply personal exploration of life, love, and connection in the face of disease, and an incisive critique of our existing ideas of health and happiness.
Beautifully written and heartbreakingly honest, Our Kind of People goes behind the headlines of an unprecedented epidemic to show the real lives it affects, illuminating the scope of the crisis and a continent's valiant struggle.
"Nigerian native Iweala tackles Africa's AIDS crisis, examining its history and social stigma and talking to the activists, scholars, and doctors working to stop its spread. In discussing Western attitudes to the topic, he unpacks dehumanizing assumptions that only promiscuity, backwardness, or polygamy could explain such high rates of infection. He also speaks to people like Dr. Chukwumuanya Igboekwu, who works in an underfunded Nigerian clinic where he often pays for supplies out of his own pocket. The doctor notes that ashamed families often ask him to leave 'HIV/AIDS' off death certificates. Idris, a community leader, frankly describes an infected woman's banishment from his village, explaining, 'Everybody is afraid.' Other interviews display a spectrum of HIV-positive people, like twenty-eight-year-old Angie, who lost her fiancé and her job after contracting the disease, and activist Samaila Garba, a former police officer. The book also explores this epidemic's consequences, which include sub-Saharan Africa's low life expectancy — just forty-five years — , dwindling workforce, and innumerable orphaned children. This is an accessible book for those seeking to learn more about the crisis, and Iweala's passion and urgency is vibrant on the page. Agents: Jeff Posternak & Tracy Bohan, The Wylie Agency. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Uzodinma Iweala was born in 1982 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Harvard University, where he was a Mellon Mays Scholar and received a number of prizes for his writing, including the Eager Prize, the Horman Prize, the Le Baron Briggs Prize, and the Hoopes Prize, awarded for outstanding undergraduate thesis. He lives in New York City.
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