Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah



Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria, sometimes not.

Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35. She currently lives in Minneapolis.

Her short story collection WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY  was published by Riverhead in April 2017 and won the 2017 Kirkus Prize. She’s working on a novel about you.




Available now:

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Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Time Magazine, Elle, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Millions, Nylon, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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.


“Glory”, Harper’s Magazine, March 2016

Who Will Greet You at Home“, The New Yorker, October 26th, 2015

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky“, Catapult, September 2015

“Buchi’s Girls”, Five Points, Vol. 16, No. 3

Light“, GRANTA Online, April 2015 (Winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa)

Windfalls“, Per Contra, Issue 35.

Second Chances“, The Toast, February 2015.

“War Stories”, Mid-American Review, XXXIV, No. 2

The Future Looks Good, PANK, January 2014 (Anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2015)



“Strange and wonderful… a witty, oblique and mischievous storyteller, Arimah can compress a family history into a few pages and invent utopian parables, magical tales and nightmare scenarios while moving deftly between comic distancing and insightful psychological realism…her science fiction parables, with their ecological and feminist concerns, recall those of Margaret Atwood. But it would be wrong not to hail Arimah’s exhilarating originality: She is conducting adventures in narrative on her own terms, keeping her streak of light, that bright ember, burning fiercely, undimmed.” –New York Times Book Review

“[A] remarkable debut collection…Of all of Arimah’s considerable skills, this might be her greatest: She crafts stories that reward rereading, not because they’re unclear or confusing, but because it’s so tempting to revisit each exquisite sentence, each uniquely beautiful description…electrifying [and] defiantly original.” –NPR

“Stunning.” –O, the Oprah Magazine, “A Best Book of Spring”

“Arimah’s voice is vibrant and fresh, her topics equally timely and timeless…This is a slim, rare volume that left me compelled to press it into the hands of friends, saying, ‘You must read this.’”  –The Washington Post

“Mesmerizing…the announcement of an astonishing writer whose words dare the heart and mind to remain unstirred…With its fluid blend of dark humor, sorrow, and excursions into magic realism, some of Arimah’s stories feel like a jazzy cross between Octavia Butler and Shirley Jackson. Yet there is nothing derivative here. Arimah’s writing is deliciously unpredictable…Her words throb with truth.” -Boston Globe

“Glittering.” –The Daily Beast

“It’s hard to stress how well written each of the short stories in this collection are—how striking and memorable they truly are—without resorting to clichés. Arimah is truly a master of the form and in What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, she displays that mastery with such compelling self-assuredness and with such creative empathy, that it’s hard to put the collection down until you’ve read and re-read every story.” –Jezebel

“Readers of The New Yorker will recognize Lesley Nneka Arimah’s name, as “Who Will Greet You at Home,” one of her pieces, was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Now, in her first book of short stories, the talented author will deservedly reach a wider audience. Prepare yourself for one of the best collections so far.” –Essence

“Chilling, dreamy, often breathtaking…Arimah’s stories are witty, poetic and searing, full of flawed-but-lovable characters and images that make you reread passages. The author has a keen sense of fantasy and the absurd, but her work is rooted in experiences and impulses that will seem all too familiar.” –The Seattle Times

Contact and Appearances


Media Inquiries:

Claire McGinnis
[email protected]


Leslie Shipman | [email protected]

Samantha Shea
Georges Borchardt, Inc.
136 East 57th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10022


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