Our booksellers have been reading and loving Lesley Arimah’s short story collection, What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky. We have only wonderful things to say about this book, and here are some of our thoughts. The book is on our shelves now!
JAN: I read this in one sitting. Arimah’s characters seethe with internalized violence they sublimate through storytelling, the same violence that eventually extinguishes the fire of girls as god, their mothers, and society mold them into proper young women. Complete with dashes of magical realism and steeped in lore.
ABBY: These stories remind me of Helen Oyeyemi’s magical realism and her lyricism. They are otherworldly and dark and playful and inventive. Arimah takes us around the world and back and forth in time while still making each story feel personal, some like a punch in the gut and some like a hug from a friend. My imagination was captured and I couldn’t put this book down.
TOMOKO: These stories, with their painful realities and creeping, dark, fairy-tale elements build worlds that completely submerge consciousness, and engender painful, creeping, dark emotion. Arimah’s stories are mostly not of the hopeful variety. They are swirling, seething expressions of girls pulled down, straitjacketed, expected/forced to conform, obey, and sacrifice their inner fire. They are a needle-sharp reminder that somehow hope is not a right–that to even embrace, believe, or dream that things will be better is a privilege. Arimah’s stories (spanning continents, histories and futures) are necessary reminders that we haven’t won yet. These are the stories of people unlike myself, using words I don’t know and references I don’t understand–but I can see their pain, their worries and fears, the smoldering flames that are ground out–and they hurt. The stories scratch at the bits left raw by the recent months of resurgent frustration until they bleed, leaving me lost and unsure of where to go next except back to the beginning to read them all over again.