A Book Review By Eziaghighala Chinaza

Book Title : What it means when a man falls from the sky

Author: Leslie Nneka Arimah

Publisher: RIVERHEAD BOOKS An imprint of Penguin Random House.

Publishing date: 2017

Pages: 176

Chapters: 12

Genre : Short stories




The Future Looks Good –

She tells different stories in one scene. Ezima’s family history flashes in front of her eyes but she refuses to look behind as she fumbles with the key lock. Here her skill as a story teller transporting us back to the lives of Ezinma’s family members and how their experiences have all lead to this tragic ending cannot be disputed. It’s ironic how there was never really a future to begin with.


War Stories –

This was a very disturbing story about a girl,  Nwando, and her parents. Her father always tells her war stories when they sit down to play chess and  her mother seems to be the only parent who actually parents. There is no moral lesson but this story leaves us in a state of apprehension concerning the relationship between Nwando’s father and the suicidal Emmanuel.


Wild –

This story is ironic because Ada comes to terms with the fact that her life may not be as bad as she thought afterall. When she misbehaves,  her mother sends her to Nigeria to stay with her Aunt Ugo. Dirty linen is exposed as she discovers that Chinyere may not be the ideal child that she once thought. She brought every scene to life with her attention to detail, making this short story one of the best in the book.


Light –

I profoundly enjoyed light. Maybe it’s because I understand the dynamics of distance in a relationship or because she puts me in Enebili’s position. I nearly cried at how life changes people and makes them into what they are not and how those who truly know you cannot reconcile what you have become. This is the story I most connected with.


Second Chances –

It seems her mom is dead but a spirit/ ghost woman comes to live with them and rekindles the tension between mother and daughter as well as family members her Father and her sister Udoka. Uche is a sad woman who’s life has been nothing but a paused tragedy. It’s like she never holds down work, she steals,  she’s always stoned(under the influence) and disorganized. The story has  such depth and brings out Uche’s perspective what she experiences and  she feels when she’s confronted with the fact that her mother is truly dead.


Wind fall –

This story got my insides turned out and pounded to mush.  My mind couldn’t comprehend the horror that plagued my heart mind and soul as I lived as the young girl who crack herself for her mother. I didn’t know if to save myself or the girl because I was both at the same time. I felt the urge to kill the mother for such insubordination and reckless child abuse but then I realized that humans are different and they were unfortunate. The end is something I will not forgive, it was all a plan and now,  I cannot tell if it’s a lifestyle or a mental disorder.  The girl has no name.


Who will greet you at home –

This story was particularly disturbing. She comes up with a fictional land where babies aren’t born but blessed into existence and Ogechi wants a shiny child. As the story progresses we realise that Ogechi is utterly poor and has traded her happiness time and again for beautiful children.  The last child is a mini demon in hair form who teaches Ogechi that you do not dare to hope to rise above your circumstances. I sincerely wish she would write a full book about it because it would make such a wonderful horror movie. In the end,  Ogechi is resigned to her fate and her mud child.


Buchi’s Girls –

This story taught me that life can turn the tables and leave you with nothing,  that bad things happen to good people and that to make things work,  eventually, you need to learn how to tolerate bullshit( forgive the foul language ). Buchi and her daughters are unfortunate as she looses her husband, their father to an accident which leaves them destitute and desperate. Buchi understands that family is truly what can’t be depended on and that life has no room for casualties.


What it means when a man falls from the sky –


Gripping!  Absolutely fantastic!  Mind blowing. An Afro-futuristuc story of the world as it had come to be. The discovery of God,  the learning of healing of emotions.  It’s not something I can truly explain but the world has changed,  time has changed and the reason for a re-evaluation is because a man fell from the sky.


Glory –

This story just got me sad and thinking about how one’s life could be so unfortunate. Glory is in a spot where she has to make a decision of being a wife or herself. It turns out that Glory is just who she is and as much as it has proved unfortunate over time,  I believe that she has no choice but to be what is expected of her if she is to be truly happy.


What is a valcano –

Beautiful folklore about what a volcano is. It reminded me of Aesop’s fables, was beautifully written and dark as is all of her written works in this book.


Redemption –

This part of the story has no real connection with the title.  Leslie again bring us into the dark realities of some people’s lives and how the underprivileged have to fight to survive. She tells the story from a n observer’s point of view and how life can be so unfair in many ways.


What I love about the book –

The book is written like it had different authors. There was a compelling dark undertone to each chapter and it was a technical blend of different forms of literary penmanship. I’m in awe of her talent and hard work as she makes the dream of a futuristic Nigeria possible and also goes back to the past with her fables and folktales. It’s a very dystopic book and I felt overwhelming grief when reading chapters but nonetheless it still brought out some light.


What I don’t like –

Why so sad?  The book is as real as it gets telling bone chilling stories of people, mostly Negros,  who had been through one thing or the other. Most endings were no endings at all.


I recommend  we all read this book asut enables us taste something non-traditional and unlocks the imagination of our constantly distracted minds.

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Who is Leslie?

Leslie is a writer and you can find out more about her on her website at or you could check out this interview with Wasafiri


You can order her books at

-Amazon at

-Okada books at

-The guardian bookshop at

-Penguin Random house at

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