cover image God’s Children Are Little Broken Things

God’s Children Are Little Broken Things

Arinze Ifeakandu. A Public Space, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-73459-071

Ifeakandu debuts with nine heartbreaking stories of gay men grappling with secret relationships in Nigeria. In “The Dreamer’s Litany,” Auwal seeks help with his daughter’s medical bills from wealthy “Chief” Emeka, with whom he’s having an affair; painful revelations follow. After Nonye’s father, Dubem, dies, she returns to Nigeria from the U.S., and uncomfortably accepts Dubem’s partner’s hospitality in “Where the Heart Sleeps.” In the title story, Lotanna, a university student, has an up-and-down relationship with a music student, complicated by Lotanna’s visits with his volatile family and girlfriend. “What the Singers Say About Love” includes a rare glimpse of a happy queer community amid a fraught story of two men whose relationship is tested after one, an aspiring pop singer, gets his big break. In “Mother’s Love,” 34-year-old Chikelu’s mother misreads his grief over his “roommate” Uchenna’s departure just before her visit, but the truth comes out in a surprisingly hopeful if uncertain ending. An understated style reflects the characters’ tendency to avoid speaking directly about their relationships, which encourages close reading and elicits a strong sense of what it is like for the characters to endure the perils of being gay in Nigeria. The author leaves readers with a painful and powerful group portrait. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (June)