Conversations from the Cullman Center, LIVE from NYPL: New York, My Village: Uwem Akpan with Elif Batuman
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The award-winning author’s debut novel explores tribalism everywhere, from Nigerian villages to New York publishing houses.
Coming to New York on a prestigious fellowship, Nigerian editor Ekong Udousoro is about to begin the opportunity of a lifetime: to learn the ins and outs of the publishing industry from its epicenter. His colleagues meet him with kindness and hospitality, but he is soon exposed to a colder, ruthlessly commercial underbelly and a bedrock of white cultural superiority and racist assumptions about Africa, its peoples, and worst of all, its food. In New York, My Village Uwem Akpan melds humor, tenderness, and pain to create a saga of unanticipated strife that proves there is still hope in sharing our stories.
Uwem Akpan researched and wrote New York, My Village during his 2013–2014 Fellowship at the Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He discusses his book with best-selling author Elif Batuman.
Produced in partnership with The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.
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ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Uwem Akpan’s fiction and autobiographical essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the Nigerian Guardian, O: the Oprah Magazine, and more. His collection of stories, Say You’re One of Them, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa Region), the PEN Open Book Prize, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was the 2009 Oprah Book Club selection. He is from Ikot Akpan Eda in the Niger Delta in Nigeria and teaches creative writing at the University of Florida-Gainesville.
Elif Batuman’s novel, Either/Or, is forthcoming from Penguin Press. It is a sequel to her first novel, The Idiot (2017), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Batuman is also the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. She is a staff writer at the New Yorker and has a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford. She was a Cullman Center Fellow with Uwem Akpan in 2013-2014.
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The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, The von der Heyden Family Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, and The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and with additional gifts from Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Arts and Letters Foundation Inc., William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.
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