Review: What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah

July 24, 2018
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Riverhead Books on April 3, 2018
Format Read: Paperback Edition (240 pages)
Genre: Short Story/ Fantasy/ Sci-fi
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Purchased
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories
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 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.


Content Warning: Violence, Domestic Abuse, Trauma, Child Abuse


I have been blessed by a master storyteller and I am grateful. There is so much beauty and hard realities in these stories. Through the use of magical realism and fantastical elements, characters inner turmoil are made physical. The characters are memorable and refreshingly flawed, so each story feels like a friend's you a secret. I enjoyed each and every story, they all held suspense, surprises and descriptions of family trauma. In most short story collections there are some that may not be right for the reader, but I enjoyed each one in this collection.
"This starts another argument between husband and wife, mild at first, but then it peppers and there us this thing that distance dies where it subtracts warmth and context and history and each finds that they're arguing with a stranger."
Besides the awesome prose, imagery and realism the author's unique experience and culture was incorporated. Windfalls is a story about a mother and daughter who live off of settlements they receive from slip and fall lawsuits. The story is told from the daughter's perspective and as she grows up the ugliness of this lifestyle becomes more pronounced. What it Means When A Man Falls From the Sky is a story about how mathematicians have figured out a formula to fix the effects of trauma and grief. The results of this in a future world separated by class are not what it seems, and the story left me thinking about it for a long time. Life would be so much simpler if there was a actual fix to trauma.
"Girls with fire in their bellies will be forced to drink from a well of correction till the flames die out."
The theme of women and girls as autonomous and powerful despite their circumstances runs throughout these stories. The stories cross continents include future technology and incorporate African culture. I am astounded by this author's talent and will happily read anything that she creates.

Recommended for Readers who
- enjoy memorable short stories
- like reading about diverse characters and trauma
-enjoy fantasy and magical realism elements


Lesley Nneka Arimah, InToriLex
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.


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