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What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
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What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  4,500 Ratings  ·  772 Reviews
A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.

In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a National Magazine Award finalist for The New Yorker, A woman desperate for a child weaves one out of hair, with unsettling results. In “Wild,” a disastrous nig
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Riverhead Books
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Rafael Castillo I dunno why this is so funny to me. The level of obliviousness here.

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Emily May
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Girls with fire in their bellies will be forced to drink from a well of correction till the flames die out.
But my tongue stirred anyway."

Of all the critically-acclaimed books I've been eager to read this year, I have to say What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky fell pretty low down on the list. The Goodreads ratings haven't been great and, honestly, it didn't sound as exciting as, say, Her Body and Other Parties. But I enjoyed it a whole lot more.

I can see why it might not appeal to eve
Pouting Always
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was a collection of short stories and at first I didn't quite catch on so I kept reading and I was like what the fuck is happening why do the characters keep changing. I really enjoyed all the stories in this collection though and that's quite rare. In fact I was kind of sad when the stories would end because I kept wanting to read more of all of them. I really really loved Who Will Greet You at Home, where a women creates a baby for herself from different materials but each child falls apa ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With her luminous debut collection, What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, Lesley NNeka Arimah marks her richly deserved place in contemporary fiction. At the center of each impeccably written story, Arimah offers up a new kind of yearning--for love, for peace, for comfort, for home. Never have needful things been so gorgeously displayed.
In these twelve powerful stories that embrace magical-realist elements while deploying a powerfully empathetic understanding of character and circumstance, Lesley Nneka Arimah explores how parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends, navigate conflicting cultures and struggle to reconcile conflicting desires, wants, and needs.

“There was only so much a mother could ask a daughter to bear before that bond became bondage.”

Going into to this I had no idea what to expect, but the aut
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Library book- Overdrive- Audiobook.... narrated by Adjoa Andoh

I had no idea what to expect from this book when I - ‘took-a- chance’ and downloaded this ‘available now’ library book. I didn’t know it won a Kirkus Prize for fiction — I didn’t even know that it was ‘short stories’.

The very first thing I notice was how Delightful - AWESOME - Adjoa Andoh’s voice was to listen to.

At the very beginning- although LOVING THE NARRATOR’S VOICE....I was struggling following along —but before long - the e
Richard Derus
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five


A shortlisted story for this very prestigious prize in African literature, which is limited to short fiction but has launched numerous of its sixteen previous recipients into the international literary stratoshphere, Arimah's story is post-apocalyptic climate change fiction set in a world where the entirety of North America and Europe are submerged, the remaining planet absorbing the white refugees
Shawn Mooney
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am still waiting for somebody smarter than me to explain what's in the water in Nigeria, why it has so many amazing writers. Now that I've listened to this debut story collection on audio, the question is that much more urgent. Arimah (born in the UK to Nigerian parents, grew up in Nigeria and elsewhere) writes beautifully about a variety of themes; a few stories didn't rise much above the level of anecdote, but most were just stunning.
Resh (The Book Satchel)
I couldn't sleep until I finished the whole collection. This book is just fantastic. And I loved reading it in one night. You know the feeling when you think you need to sleep and you close the book and something whispers 'Just one more?' in your mind? Exactly!

The writing is gorgeous and the stories are lovely too. Lesley has the knack of shocking the reader at the end of her realistic stories and holding the reader in a trance at the end of the few magical realism stories. This is a straight 5
Cindy Burnett
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another bookstagrammer, @bookisshhh, and I read this book of short stories together and shared our thoughts about the collection on her Instagram page. I am glad we chose to read it as our shared read because I would not have chosen it on my own. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky is Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut collection and contains a varied mix of stories that generally succeed splendidly and occasionally fall short. The title story is by far the outstanding tale in the collection; I ...more
Alice Lippart
I Be Reading
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of this book because Lesley and I follow each other on Twitter (where folks know I LOVE reading) and she asked if she could send me one to get my thoughts.

Now that that's out of the way, SWEET BUTTERY JESUS I WASN'T READY. I am still in my feelings about what I read and it's been over 12 hours since I finished. Although I absolutely LIVED for the forays she made into futurism, it was her brilliant writing about everyday scenarios and relationships that knocked me out.
This was my third short story collection this year and I must say it has cemented me as a gushing fan of the genre. Spectacular, emotional, poignant, moving collection of stories about love, parenting, growing up, marriage, self-awareness, empathy and she stuck a little scifi in with the title story. Squeee!!! Some of it was gut wrenching. But every story seemed highly emotionally charged.(view spoiler) ...more

Short stories, especially from debut authors, seem to me like an opportunity for writers to pull on different shoes and walk around in them for a while. A low risk way to play with different genres and voices without the burden of committing to an entire novel.
I can see Arimah doing that in this 12 story collection. There were stories that I thought had almost N.K.Jemisinesque fantasy elements. Particularly, What it means when a man falls from the sky and What is a Volcano . The former
Rebecca Foster
Most of these dozen stories are set in a recognizable Nigeria, with past events like the Biafran War contrasting with real and imagined future scenarios. The protagonists are generally young women poised on the brink of wildness and trying to decide between what’s sensible and what they really want from life. Three of the stories employ magic realism to infuse everyday situations with novel possibilities. There are such wonderful, natural turns of phrase throughout that the narratives rollick al ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I wanted to love this book but struggled to get into it. This short story collection contains so many important things: strong and complex female characters, scenes of Nigerian family life both in Nigeria and in America, and innovative touches of magical realism. Lesley Nneka Arimah captures poignant moments throughout these stories, such as when a child's relationship with their overseas parent fades away, or when a woman from a difficult upbringing discerns that she wants more for her
Richard Derus
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4.5* of five

UPDATE 7 November 2017: This deserving collection has won a 2017 Kirkus Prize!

This edition's review is coming on my blog, Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud, during Booksgiving! That's my book-gifting guide for the perplexed from 24 November to 24 December, if you're wondering.

This title also appears in the semi-final round of the Goodreads Choice Awards and I strongly encourage you to vote it through to the next round! Please? Pretty please with real, delicious sugar on top?
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As Nakia said, "the first story went off like a firecracker out the gate." And, this collection of short stories ended with a bang! In this book, no two short stories are like the other in terms of plot, pace or tone. This collection is not only a testament of Lesley's writing prowess but a display of her ingenuity.

Also, Lesley's writing pulled me all the way in! It said, "Girl, lean in. No, a little closer. Closer." Her words sucked me right in & made me feel everything that her characters
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

4.5 stars. This collection of stories is out of this world - literally! I really loved Arimah’s wild imagination and the finesse with which she created worlds I never knew could exist. This collection embodies how a short story collection should be: ORIGINAL, unpredictable, startling and out-of-the-box.

May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
More like 4.5 stars.

This collection of short stories is AMAZING. The first story went off like a firecracker out of the gate, and I was glued all the way thru until the end.

Lesley’s stories are simple, but also brilliant, deep, magical, and a whole lot of other good and great stuff. She gives small glimpses into Nigerian and Nigerian immigrant life, placing the ordinary in extraordinary circumstances. I loved this collection mostly because the stories are witty, and many of them have complicate
Alana Benjamin
This short story collection is masterful! This is probably my favourite fiction debut of 2017.

The author's sheer wit and charm shines through in every story. Although most of the stories are speculative fiction and within magical realism genre, each story is very much relatable and you fall very deep into the story. The stories are haunting and intriguing. I have thought about these stories days after reading them.

I, especially, love how each story is about a girl or a woman navigating their w
Rachel León
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
My expectations were very high for this short story collection and it didn't disappoint. Lesley Nneka Arimah is a writer I'll be watching and anxious to read again.
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky’ is a wondrous collection of short stories, which take place mostly in Nigeria or Africa. The stories stunned me by their cleverness, symbolic insight and strong emotion. Yet, the writing itself is simple and direct. Lesley Nneka Arimah, the author, has a terrific talent for symbolic expression. Male readers may feel these stories are focused on a female point of view. Yes, they are. But the human universals of being poor, or being mad, of family, of ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017

I've given myself a couple of days to digest this, and I can without doubt say that this one of the best short story collections I've read in a long time. I'm not going to bother reviewing it because I'm still ill and, well, other people have accurately summed up what I thought about it already, but this is a powerful - and often moving - collection of stories, with no weak spots. (Just a couple of stories that are less mind-blowing, but still superb.)

A must read.
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good collection of short stories that take place in the US or various African countries. Common themes include the struggles faced by younger girls and many stories feature children with missing or unavailable parents. Some of the stories could have been more developed, but this is well worth the read overall.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is such a special collection of stories from a unique voice that I can’t wait to read more from. Lesley Nneka Arimah writes about things we can relate to, but she shows the inside, the underside, the turned inside out side. She lures you in and then fills you with surprises.

She hooked me with the first story, “The Future Looks Good,” which is an odd dance through past and present with a shocking end. The title story is a brilliant, futuristic concoction about using mathematics to take on an
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first short story collection of this year and I loved it.Lesley Nneka Arimah has woven twelve fantastic stories interlaced with fantasy , magical realism and science fiction and all twelve stories are patterned around the female entity in it's various forms (women,adolescent girls ,teenage girls , tiny girls ,baby girls).
The stories are set in both Nigeria and the US and every story is rooted with human loss, need and longing. This is a sad book if we look at it from one perspective , but it'
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Each of Arimah's stories are a dramatic shift in style and tone: some family drama, some magical realism, and some futurist elements. It was such a unique and beautiful collection, and I am excited to see what this author does next.
Michael Livingston
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful collection of shorts set across the US and Nigeria. Elements of magical realism in some of the stories worked surprisingly well (I'm not always on board) and gorgeous writing.
"Is this about the time he took your gun?"

The tale, intended to impart some inscrutable lesson, was a stale one my father had trotted out at various infractions over my short life. I heard it when I stole lipstick from my aunt's dresser. I heard it when my mother discovered me gathering ants in a plastic bag to put in a schoolmate's hair. I heard it after I got into a fight with the children who said my father was strange, and again when I wanted to know why Emmanuel couldn't come to our house a
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, short-stories
Arimah, takes issues that we have all been aware of or at least heard of and spins the most incredible stories. These short stories are definitely, "I never quite thought of it like before tales."
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Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria, sometimes not.

Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. She currently lives in Minneapolis.
More about Lesley Nneka Arimah
“When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters. He did not know how quickly it would wick the dew off her, how she would be returned to him hollowed out, relieved of her better parts.” 10 likes
“There is this thing that distance does where it subtracts warm and context and history and each finds that they are arguing with a stranger.” 3 likes
More quotes…