What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories

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A PBS NewsHour/New York Times Book Club Pick

A NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION "5 UNDER 35" HONOREE

WINNER OF THE 2017 KIRKUS PRIZE

WINNER OF THE NYPL'S YOUNG LIONS FICTION AWARD

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE LEONARD PRIZE

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ASPEN WORDS LITERARY PRIZE

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.
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About the author

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and the United States. Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, the Elizabeth George Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, Breadloaf and others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and is the recipient of an O'Henry Award. Her debut collection, What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, won the Kirkus Prize and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and was a finalist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize. She currently lives in Minneapolis.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Apr 4, 2017
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780735211049
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Cultural Heritage
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Magical Realism
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Content protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Mehran’s novel delights the senses on every page. The story pulses with life as three Iranian sisters struggle to make sense of matters of the heart and the spirit.”
–Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon

More than a year has passed since Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, the beautiful Iranian Aminpour sisters, sought refuge in the quaint Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Opening the beguiling Babylon Café, they charmed the locals with their warm hearts and delectable Persian cuisine, bringing a saffron-scented spice to the once-sleepy village.

But when a young woman with a dark secret literally washes up on Clew Bay Beach, the sisters’ world is once again turned upside down. With pale skin and webbed hands, the girl is otherworldly, but her wounds tell a more earthly (and graver) story–one that sends the strict Catholic town into an uproar. The Aminpours rally around the newcomer, but each sister must also contend with her own transformation–Marjan tests her feelings for love with a dashing writer, Bahar takes on a new spiritual commitment with the help of Father Mahoney, and Layla matures into a young woman when she and her boyfriend, Malachy, step up their hot and heavy relationship.

Filled with mouthwatering recipes and enchanting details of life in Ireland, Rosewater and Soda Bread is infused with a lyrical warmth that radiates from the Aminpour family and their big-hearted Italian landlady, Estelle, to the whole of Ballinacroagh–and the world beyond.


Praise for Marsha Mehran’s Pomegranate Soup

“A mouthwatering tale with flavors of Chocolat and Under the Tuscan Sun . . . sinfully sweet and satisfying.”
–Orlando Sentinel

“Glorious, daring, and delightful, filled with humor, hope, and possibility.”
–Adriana Trigiani, author of the Big Stone Gap novels

“An enchanting tale of love, family, and renewal.”
–Firoozeh Dumas, author of Laughing Without an Accent
A literary jigsaw puzzle of a debut novel set in Colombia during the peak of its decades-long conflict, and in New York City

While her parents are away, a teenager finds herself home alone, with the household staff mysteriously gone, no phone connection, and news of an insurgency on the radio—and then she hears a knock at the door. Her teacher, who has been kidnapped by guerrillas, recites Shakespeare in the jungle to a class of sticks, leaves, and stones while his captors watch his every move. Another classmate, who has fled Colombia for the clubs of New York, is unable to forget the life she left behind without the help of the little bags of powder she carries with her. Taking place over two decades, The Lucky Ones presents us with a world in which perpetrators are indistinguishable from saviors, the truth is elusive, and loved ones can disappear without a trace.

A prismatic tale of a group of characters who emerge and recede throughout the novel and touch one another’s lives in ways even they cannot comprehend, The Lucky Ones captures the intensity of life in Colombia as paramilitaries, guerrillas, and drug traffickers tear the country apart. Combining vivid descriptions of life under siege with a hallucinatory feel that befits its violent world, The Lucky Ones introduces a truly original and exciting new voice in fiction.

Praise for The Lucky Ones

“A blunt, fresh and unsentimental look inside Colombia’s last thirty bloody years . . . an enjoyable and freaky joy ride. . . . [Julianne] Pachico conveys the fear that Colombian children grow up with—she made that pit in my stomach open up again. . . . At the end you’ll come out of this ride with a better understanding of Colombia’s surreal state of affairs.”—Silvana Paternostro, The New York Times Book Review

“[A] brilliantly wacked-out collection of linked stories about Colombia’s long civil war.”—New York

“An expansive tapestry of a debut.”—Elle

“Thrilling . . . The Lucky Ones is no ordinary coming-of-age novel. Julianne Pachico’s remarkably inventive debut navigates what it means to grow up wealthy amid the reality of conflict in Colombia.”—The Atlantic

"Nothing is conventionally cohesive in The Lucky Ones, with its looping sense of time and fractured narrative structure. But there is an enduring sense of an ungovernable world unraveling, even as the disparate strands of this deeply affecting novel finally converge.”—Paste

“In finely calibrated prose, this stirring novel plumbs the fates of those who struggled against the Colombian political upheaval that began in the ‘90s.”—O Magazine

“Relentlessly rewarding . . . with traces of Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping, Pachico’s unapologetically immersive first novel brings life to a South American struggle often forgotten in global headlines.”—Booklist

“Riveting . . . Having lived in Colombia until she turned eighteen, Pachico has a firsthand connection to the country’s charms and troubles that shines through on every gripping page.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Julianne Pachico’s tough and stunning novel set in both the Colombian and New York drug jungles kept this reader up all night and made her double-check that her front door was locked tight.”—Lily Tuck, National Book Award–winning author of The News from Paraguay and The Double Life of Liliane
Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying roads,” they might finally find a home.

From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets–an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh’s uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied–and by foreigners, no less.

But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava–and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous.

And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle, lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.

Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumph,s of two distinct cultures, Pomegranate Soup is an infectious novel of magical realism. This richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes, is a delectable journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.
A glittering landscape of twenty-five speculative stories that challenge oppression and envision new futures for America—from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, G. Willow Wilson, Charlie Jane Anders, Hugh Howey, and more.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

In these tumultuous times, in our deeply divided country, many people are angry, frightened, and hurting. Knowing that imagining a brighter tomorrow has always been an act of resistance, editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.

They also asked that the stories be badass.

The result is this spectacular collection of twenty-five tales that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. These tales are vivid with struggle and hardship—whether it’s the othered and the terrorized, or dragonriders and covert commandos—but these characters don’t flee, they fight.

Thrilling, inspiring, and a sheer joy to read, A People’s Future of the United States is a gift for anyone who believes in our power to dream a just world.

Featuring stories by Violet Allen • Charlie Jane Anders • Lesley Nneka Arimah • Ashok K. Banker • Tobias S. Buckell • Tananarive Due • Omar El Akkad • Jamie Ford • Maria Dahvana Headley • Hugh Howey • Lizz Huerta • Justina Ireland • N. K. Jemisin • Alice Sola Kim • Seanan McGuire • Sam J. Miller • Daniel José Older • Malka Older • Gabby Rivera • A. Merc Rustad • Kai Cheng Thom • Catherynne M. Valente • Daniel H. Wilson • G. Willow Wilson • Charles Yu
A National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree
NBCC John Leonard First Book Prize Finalist
Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalist

Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, NPR, Elle, Esquire, Buzzfeed, San Francisco Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, The Root, Harper’s Bazaar, Paste, Bustle, Kirkus Reviews, Electric Literature, LitHub, New York Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Bust

“The debut novel of the year.” —Vogue

“Like so many stories of the black diaspora, What We Lose is an examination of haunting.” —Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker

“Raw and ravishing, this novel pulses with vulnerability and shimmering anger.” —Nicole Dennis-Benn, O, the Oprah Magazine

“Stunning. . . . Powerfully moving and beautifully wrought, What We Lose reflects on family, love, loss, race, womanhood, and the places we feel home.” —Buzzfeed

“Remember this name: Zinzi Clemmons. Long may she thrill us with exquisite works like What We Lose. . . . The book is a remarkable journey.” —Essence

From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African-American woman coming of age—a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and country

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.
FINALIST FOR THE 2017 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and Electric Literature

“There was a time I would have called Lisa Ko’s novel beautifully written, ambitious, and moving, and all of that is true, but it’s more than that now: if you want to understand a forgotten and essential part of the world we live in, The Leavers is required reading.” —Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth

Lisa Ko’s powerful debut, The Leavers, is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.
 
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. 
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind. 
Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heartwrenching choice after another. 
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past. 
 
 
 
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