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

By: Lesley Nneka Arimah

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Imprint: Riverhead Books

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780735211032

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Electronic | Hardcover | Audiobook Download

On Sale: | Pages: 240

  • About the Book
  • Reviews
A PBS NewsHour/New York Times Book Club PickA NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION "5 UNDER 35" HONOREEWINNER OF THE 2017 KIRKUS PRIZEWINNER OF THE NYPL'S YOUNG LIONS FICTION AWARDFINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE LEONARD PRIZESHORTLISTED FOR THE ASPEN WORDS LITERARY PRIZEA 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 night out shifts a teenager and her Nigerian cousin onto uneasy common ground. In "The Future Looks Good," three generations of women are haunted by the ghosts of war, while in "Light," a father struggles to protect and empower the daughter he loves. And in the title story, in a world ravaged by flood and riven by class, experts have discovered how to "fix the equation of a person" - with rippling, unforeseen repercussions.  Evocative, playful, subversive, and incredibly human, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky heralds the arrival of a prodigious talent with a remarkable career ahead of her.
A witty, oblique and mischievous storyteller, Arimah can compress a family history into a few pages and invent utopian parables, magical tales and nightmare scenarios while moving deftly between comic distancing and insightful psychological realism.... As in most collections, a few entries are less successful...but throughout Arimah demonstrates a deft wit and an ability to surprise herself — and her readers — with the depth and delicacy of her feelings.... Arimah is most insightful when exploring the complex relations between mothers and daughters and between young women.... Arimah's magic realism owes something to Ben Okri's use of spirit beliefs, while her science fiction parables, with their ecological and feminist concerns, recall those of Margaret Atwood. But it would be wrong not to hail Arimah's exhilarating originality: She is conducting adventures in narrative on her own terms, keeping her streak of light, that bright ember, burning fiercely, undimmed.
—New York Times
Sometimes the hype around a highly anticipated title makes me skeptical. This short story collection by Lesley Nneka Arimah silenced that cranky inner cynic and instead gave me something to celebrate.... Let's hope her writing future is as bright as it looks because the readers will benefit most.... As good as these stories are, perhaps my favorite is the first in the collection, "The Future Looks Good." Arimah opens with a woman who is fumbling with keys against a lock. The story roughly shifts from that moment to the past. It's jarring, but it works.
—Dallas Morning News
The work within WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY is nothing less than game-changing. Arimah is a sheer expert in her craft, and her stories shimmer with unique lyricism and gut-wrenching poignancy.... Each of the stories in this collection stands out and sings on its own.... WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY is exquisite and startling. These works are so urgent and necessary, but also timeless, enviably original and built to endure. Arimah excels in the short story form, and I cannot wait to read more from her. I am grateful for this disparate, fluid collection of voices, which is at once lovely and shattering.
...[a] chilling, dreamy debut collection about relationships and women with near-mystical power.... The title story in this slender collection is as devastating as it is clever.... Arimah's stories are witty, poetic and searing, full of flawed-but-lovable characters and images that make you reread passages. The author has a keen sense of fantasy and the absurd, but her work is rooted in experiences and impulses that will seem all too familiar.
—Seattle Times
With its fluid blend of dark humor, sorrow, and excursions into magic realism, some of Arimah's stories feel like a jazzy cross between Octavia Butler and Shirley Jackson. Yet there is nothing derivative here. Arimah's writing is deliciously unpredictable whether she's detailing a vengeful feud between the god of ants and goddess of rivers in the shattering "What is a Volcano?" or the born-to-be-blue protagonist of "Glory." Her words throb with truth.... In this sharp, meticulous collection, Arimah is more concerned with the ways, for better or worse, people try to navigate love, the meaning of home, and the hard corners of their lives.
—Boston Globe
Lesley Nneka Arimah's debut short-story collection, "What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky," is an impressive showcase of her talent. Packed with a dozen stories that run from fables and fairy tales to near-future dystopias, her book focuses on family, either in African communities abroad or among members of the diaspora in the United States. Arimah's voice is vibrant and fresh, her topics equally timely and timeless.... This is a slim, rare volume that left me compelled to press it into the hands of friends, saying, "You must read this." But resist the urge to make your way through its pages at a rapid clip. Each story here benefits from reflection before you tackle the next.
—Washington Post
Arimah, who lives in Minneapolis, is a skillful storyteller who can render entire relationships with just a few lines of dialogue.... Despite its themes of grief and loss, Arimah's prose is not without humor.... In this altered, saturated landscape, the thing that hasn't changed is the human capacity for pain. "Some Mathematicians remove pain," Mathematician Nneoma explains. "We all fix the equation of a person." In her compassionate exploration of grief in its many forms, Arimah considers the notion of such a "fix," and its impossibility.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
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