Title- What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky
Author- Leslie Ann Arimah
Winner ,Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa
This is a collection of short stories delving into a rich mix of human experiences. The book has a strong Igbo presence of characters giving valuable insight into the culture, language and contemporary life.
The themes range from immigrants, class divides, naughty children, folklore, Biafran/Nigerian Civil War, family tensions, finding and staying in love, a dash of fantasy, to a futuristic story about a mathematician with a secret formula for emotions.
Racism, sexism , poverty and mental health are some of the issues Leslie Nneka Arimah explores in this book. She twists reality to tell us what we already know but are refusing to accept, and that is perhaps the most powerful aspect of her work.
I did enjoy some of the stories. But still think it was over hyped. Like I should have been allowed to discover this book sans the heavy marketing, I may have liked it a little more.
It has a fresh take on many pressing issues.and I like the use of futuristic and fantasy to retell stories we are all familiar with, relive experiences and show the struggles we face as women , children, blacks , immigrants, Igbos etc.
What did you think of When a Man Falls From the Sky?
My favourite story was the one that shares titles with the book.
The àmì on the author’s name made me translate the title into Yoruba subconsciously and there! I got a loose idea of what the book was centred on – Àbíkú.
However , nothing prepares you for the twists and turns, the suspense and carefully woven tapestry of this work, the ending that is as unexpected as it is beautiful. All of this makes Stay With Me such a fantastic piece.
The plot mirrors common but rarely discussed experiences. In it, you are made to feel the pressure, frustration and all other emotions of a childless couple in 80’s South West Nigeria.
You feel the pain of betrayal, the rawness of deception, the calculation and misguided love in the ties connecting Akin and Yejide to Funmi, Dotun, Moomi and other characters. Witnessing the darkest side of each’s persona still does not make you judge them. Such is the candour of Ayòbámi’s presentation.
Perhaps what made this book so striking is the familiarity of the setting.
It is amazing how the author manages to incorporate so many themes in a concise and enjoyable read. Among them are life in Nigeria’s military era; escaping poverty to middle class through education; retaining core aspects of cultural heritage nonetheless; dedication and sacrifice of mothers; sickle cell disease and mental health.
It provides insight into the overwhelming importance placed on having biological children, how this leads to desperation, unforseen circumstances and uncontrollable consequences that defy best laid plans. Societal expectations are seen to be more stringent on women. Even self-proclaimed feminists are not spared.
P.S I would love to know more about Akin. For me, he was the most layered and interesting character.