What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky

Lesley Nneka Arimah. Riverhead, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1102-5
In her powerful and incisive debut collection, Arimah shuttles between continents and realities to deliver 12 stories of loss, hope, violence, and family relationships. In “Wild,” a reckless teenage girl is sent from America to her aunt in Nigeria, only to get caught up in the life of her equally reckless cousin. “Second Chances” sees a deceased mother magically reappear in her family’s life, with mixed results, and “Buchi’s Girls” is about a widow struggling to raise two daughters while living in her sister’s house. Mother and daughter grifters deal with an unexpected pregnancy in “Windfalls,” while the collection’s futuristic title story explores a world in which mathematicians have unlocked the secrets to all humanity, allowing humans to remove emotional pain from others and disrupt the laws of nature. Arimah gracefully inserts moments of levity into each tale and creates complex characters who are easy to both admire and despise. From the chilling opening story, “The Future Looks Good,” structured like a Russian nesting doll, to the closing story, “Redemption,” this collection electrifies. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2017
Release date: 04/04/2017
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