What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

The Blurb On The Back:

A childless woman resorts to forbidden magic in her quest for a baby.  A widow boils with rage at the grudging welcome her daughters receive in her sister’s home.  In a devastated, not too distant future, a ‘grief worker’ discovers a miraculous ability to remove emotional pain – at a price.

The characters in What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky are men and women who want things that remain impossible or out of reach.  What unites them is the toughness of lives where opportunities are scant, and where fortunes can change faster than the flick of a switch.

Conjuring worlds at once familiar and unsettlingly different, What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky showcases the work of a writer of startling promise at the beginning of an exciting literary career.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut short story collection is a strong mix of literary, fantasy and science fiction that kept me fascinated from beginning to end and which definitely makes me want to read what she does next.

THE FUTURE LOOKS GOOD is a fascinating look at how the past and your relationships can bring you to a critical point.  I enjoyed the structure of this a great deal and Arimah writes with a light touch.

WAR STORIES is a great story about family, childhood rivalries and the tragedy of violence no matter the course that’s sensitively written and had a melancholic end.

WILD is about a teenage girl sent to Lagos, Nigeria for the summer to stay with her aunt and how her relationship with her cousin, Chinyere, causes her to recognise her privilege and see for the first time the games that adults play but I felt that the ending was a little too downbeat.

LIGHT is another bittersweet story about Enebeli who lives in Nigeria with his daughter and their relationship with Enebeli’s wife who studied and now works in the USA.  I particularly enjoyed the description of Enebeli’s fears about losing his daughter and the effects of distance on the family dynamic.

SECOND CHANCES is about a young woman whose mother suddenly reappears into the life of her, her sister and her father despite the fact that she’s been dead for several years.  It’s heart-breaking and well observed, although the ending is a little predictable.

WINDFALLS is a really disturbing story about a young woman and her mother who work their way across America grifting for cash.  Again, the relationships here are well observed and it was one of my favourites in the collection.

WHO WILL GREET YOU AT HOME is about a poor young woman in a world where magic and everyday objects can give you a baby.  I don’t want to spoil it any more but again, this was a very strong story that really got under my skin – especially the ending – and I loved the way Arimah weaved the fantasy elements into the story.

BUCHI’S GIRLS is about a woman whose change in circumstances have forced her and her children to move in with her richer sister and brother-in-law and the tensions that arise from their being in the same house.  Again, it’s a melancholic story that left me desperately sorry for the protagonist who’s forced to make a very hard choice.

WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY is a very clever science fiction piece set in a world where mathematical equations have been discovered that allow for incredible feats such as flight.  Nneoma is a Mathematician able to use the equations to remove pain from other people but only for a high price.  What’s great about this story is the world building – I enjoyed the new colonialism depicted in this future world ravaged and how even when Africa should be able to benefit from new global circumstances, it is abused by the west.

GLORY follows a young woman called Glory who makes the wrong choices and whose life appears to her to be cursed as a result until she meets a handsome and successful young Nigerian man called Thomas who could potentially turn her life around.  It’s cleverly written but the extent to which you enjoy it depends on your feelings towards Glory.

WHAT IS A VOLCANO? Is a folklore piece about a feud between the god of ants and the goddess of rivers that grows from a grudge and rapidly goes too far.  I enjoyed the tone of this piece very much.

REDEMPTION is a great story about a young girl and her friendship with a troubled house girl (servant) called Mayowa, which again is sad but knowing and has a satisfying if bittersweet ending to it.

WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY will be released in the United Kingdom on 25th August 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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