MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky

Stories

by Lesley Nneka Arimah

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah X
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2017, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2018, 240 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

THE FUTURE LOOKS GOOD

Ezinma fumbles the keys against the lock and doesn't see what came behind her: Her father as a boy when he was still tender, vying for his mother's affection. Her grandmother, overworked to the bone by the women whose houses she dusted, whose laundry she washed, whose children's asses she scrubbed clean; overworked by the bones of a husband who wanted many sons and the men she entertained to give them to him, sees her son to his thirteenth year with the perfunction of a nurse and dies in her bed with a long, weary sigh.

His stepmother regards him as one would a stray dog that comes by often enough that she knows its face, but she'll be damned if she'll let him in. They dance around each other, boy waltzing forward with want, woman pirouetting away. She grew up the eldest daughter of too many and knows how the needs of a child can drown out a girl's dreams. The boy sees only the turned back, the dismissal, and the father ignores it all, blinded by the delight of an old man with a young wife still fresh between her legs. This one he won't share. And when the boy is fifteen and returns from the market to find his possessions in two plastic bags on the front doorstep, he doesn't even knock to find out why or to ask where he's supposed to go, but squats with other unmothered boys in an abandoned half-built bungalow where his two best shirts are stolen and he learns to carry his money with him at all times. He begs, he sells scrap metal, he steals, and the third comes so easy to him it becomes his way out. He starts small, with picked pockets and goods snatched from poorly tended market stalls. He learns to pick locks, to hot-wire cars, to finesse his sleight of hand.

When he is twenty-one, the war comes, and while people are cheering in the streets and shouting "Biafra! Biafra!" he begins to stockpile goods. When goods become scarce, he makes his fortune. When food becomes scarce, he raids farms in the dead of night, which is how he will meet his wife, and why Ezinma, fumbling the keys against the lock, doesn't see what came behind her: her mother at age twentytwo, not beautiful, but with the fresh look of a person who has never been hungry.

Her mother is a brash girl who takes more than is offered. It's 1966, months before everything changes, and she is at a party hosted by friends of her parents and there is a man there, yellow skinned like a mango and square jawed and bodied like the statue of David, wealthy; the unmarried women strap on their weaponry (winsome smiles, robust cleavage, accommodating personalities) and go to war over him. When she comes out the victor, she takes it as her due.

Almost a year into their courting, the war comes. Her people are Biafra loyalists, his people think Ojukwu is a fool. On the night of their engagement party only her people attend. And when she goes by his house the next day, she discovers he has left the country.

Her family is soon forced to flee the city, soon forced to barter what they have been able to carry, soon forced to near begging, and for the first time in her life, food is so scarce she slips into farms at night and harvests tender tubes of half-grown corn in stealth. They boil so soft she eats the inner core and the fibrous husk, too. One night, she finds a small farm tucked behind a hill and there she encounters a man stealing the new yams that would have been hers. There is no competition; he is well fed and strong, and even if she tried to raise an alarm out of spite, he could silence her. But he puts his finger to his lips and gives her a yam. And being who she is, she gestures for two more. He gives her another one and she scurries away. The next night when she returns to the farm, he is waiting for her. She sits by him and they listen to crickets and each other's breathing. When he puts his arm around her, she leans into him and cries for the first time since her engagement party many months ago. When he puts a yam in her lap, she laughs. And when he takes her hand, she thinks, I am worth three yams.

From What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky. Published by Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group USA (LLC). Copyright © Lesley Nneka Arimah, 2017.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Biafra-Britain Connection

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    Crossings
    by Alex Landragin
    Crossings is a beautiful, if slightly messy, time-bending debut. It reads like a vampire novel, sans...
  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    He Started It
    by Samantha Downing

    A new thriller from the twisted mind behind the mega hit My Lovely Wife.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Last Flight
by Julie Clark

The story of two women and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.