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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 memorytearing 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 lifethe 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.
“At last, an account of the AIDS crisis from the point of view of the people most affected by it—men, women and children of Africa, who are not simply victims but are heroes and scientists as well.”
-The Daily Beast
“A stunning inquiry into the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. . . . Iweala evokes the human cost of AIDS, and this is where Our Kind of People excels. . . . . Iweala’s focus on narrative, on sharing voices and experiences, becomes an act of redemption.”
-The Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Iweala’s arguments are well reasoned. By making generous use of the voices of many Africans, Iweala’s writing possesses an immediacy that makes his message powerful and compelling.”
-The Boston Globe
“Iweala tells the stories of those whose lives - and deaths - make up the numbers in a measured, accessible tone. The end of the story of HIV/AIDS is not yet written, but in Our Kind of People we see the beginnings of normalcy.”
“In this unassuming but important book, Uzodinma Iweala gives the AIDS pandemic not just a human face but a human voice. . . . Remarkable.”
-The Times Literary Supplement