Nothing less than breathtaking and daring…these tales bear the emotional weight and complexity of novels, with the reader pulled forward by lucid prose and excellent pacing. Most compelling, though, are the unforgettable characters and the relationships that hurl them into the unknown and dangerous depths of their desires.
—Kirkus starred review
Surprisingly hopeful…[Arinze's Ifeakandu's] understated style encourages close reading and elicits a strong sense of what it is like for the characters to endure the perils of being gay in Nigeria. The author leaves readers with a painful and powerful group portrait.
Arinze Ifeakandu is a master observer, immortalizing the complex situations where queerness and Nigerian existence intersect.
—Nelson C.J., i-D
Ifeakandu deserves to be widely read for a precise, elegant, and erotic individual voice melded to a breadth of cultural material; he makes each character’s particular experiences feel universal, and the reader ache and love along with them… Readers [of Ifeakandu] have much to look forward to.
—Julia Lichtblau, The Common
Each story is intimate, painful, and beautiful. Ifeakandu explores the lives of queer Nigerians in a way that emphasizes the connection of our struggles… Ifeakandu shows there is love and possibility, if we take the chance to see the connections.
—Chinelo Anyadiegwu, Autostraddle
Ifeakandu chronicles the beauty and brutality, the bittersweetness, of queer Nigerian life, and how intimacy can be the warm light against the harmattan haze.
—Michelle Hart, Electric Literature
[Ifeakandu’s] gorgeous prose allows us to see the worlds his characters live in, and to see their inner worlds as well…The way that he chooses to depict a character’s world, seen through their eyes, also reflects their emotional landscape. It is a subtle and beautiful way to portray these characters, to allow us to truly understand how they feel.
—Laura Spence-Ash, Ploughshares
One of the reasons God’s Children are Little Broken Things stands out is that nothing feels hasty or unconsidered. There’s no race against a clock here, simply a concreteness, a rock-solid quality that offers a sense of sturdiness and permanence. These are stories I’ll be thinking about for a long time.
—Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books
God’s Children narrates youthful love in a country where being gay is difficult. Lush with evocative passages, it uncompromisingly follows the promise and pains of its characters...Not only are the stories sensitive, they are fresh in how they pull the peculiarities of contemporary Nigeria…The artistic success of this book is a testament to an incoming generation of African writers, and in time will serve as an anchor of motivation.
—Emmanuel Esomnofu, Open Country
These are brilliant stories: heartbroken but pulsing with life, wise but never cynical, and soaked in an atmosphere so convincing it’s like being inside a great album. The prose alone is worth the price of the ticket, as lush as it is exact, but through it comes whole worlds of longing and travail, youth and aging, queer love expressed in so many of its facets. Arinze Ifeakandu is a major talent, and God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is a seriously good book.
—Adam Haslett, author of Imagine Me Gone
These are heartbreaking stories of love and loss, as granular and nourishing as the harmattan, the cold winter wind that blows out of the Sahara. Ifeakandu is a writer of lyricism and profundity at the beginning of a brilliant career.
—Edmund White, author of A Saint from Texas
A beautiful, significant debut. Although he writes about queer lives and loves in Nigeria, Arinze Ifeakandu's voice is sensually alert to the human and universal in every situation. These quietly transgressive stories are the work of a brilliant new talent.
—Damon Galgut, Booker Prize winner for The Promise
An exquisite, complex examination of the vulnerabilities of queer love and desire amid family fears, dreams, and the power of expectations, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is a shimmering, beguiling debut.
—Asako Serizawa, author of Inheritors
These stories are written with raw tender grace. They dramatize what love is like in a time when love is under siege. They are brilliant when they explore intimate moments and are superb as they render with complexity and nuance the relations between characters. It is clear from this book that a serious literary talent has emerged.
—Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician
Magic in motion. My love for this work isn't just about the lush tenderness of the writing—which is abundant here—but also about the book's internal circuitry. This book knows what it's doing, where its electricities need to pass through for maximum impact, knows who it is for and who it certainly doesn't answer to, and is its own self-contained habitat. God's Children Are Little Broken Things remains subtle and measured even through massive emotional transitions, carrying the reader the whole way through. Arinze writes like a composer or an orchestral director, bringing notes together to form a staggering, heartshattering show.
—Eloghosa Osunde, author of Vagabonds!
Contemporary love stories with moments of real surprise and revelation.
—Brandon Taylor, author of Filthy Animals
In these gorgeous stories, Ifeakandu takes on big, untidy emotions—love, loneliness, yearning, grief—and writes about them with extraordinary deftness and grace. This is a hugely impressive collection, full of subtlety, wisdom and heart.
—Sarah Waters, author of The Paying Guests
Arinze Ifeakandu works beautifully within the short form. These stories are wonderful—searching, unsparing, and contemplative. Each carries the freight of love, suffering, memory, and politics. Each is so finely and sensually drawn the reader lives them. Together, they are quite simply a tour de force.
—Sarah Hall, author of Burntcoat
This collection is the very meaning of exquisite; even the heartbreaking moments come with the great beauty of being alive. Delicate, raw in its honesty and viscerally alive, God's Children Are Little Broken Things, is the kind of collection that steals your breath and fills your heart.
—Xochitl Gonzalez, author of Olga Dies Dreaming
Arinze Ifeakandu captures the tenderness and tumult of queer love, familial love, self-love, and the many ways love elates and eludes us. Written with compelling intricacy and deep intimacy, these heart-grabbing stories are masterful. What a glorious collection!
—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
In Arinze Ifeakandu’s short story collection, queer Nigerian men defy cultural norms to pursue love.... Rather than indulging in neat, artificial endings, the stories reflect a messy, complex world that many will find all too familiar. In doing so, they offer a sort of comfort: no one is alone in their struggles.
—Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews
Depictions of love in ever-present tension with the social and cultural expectations of urban Nigeria… my heart ached for the characters in this collection. There’s so much fear, and so much desire in so many of these men. Being free is an intoxicating drug, held just out of reach for so many of them, where there can be safety in subterfuge, but often at the cost of estrangement from oneself. This book is so good.
—Danielle King, Left Bank Books
Shimmering with an interrogation of desire at the turn of every page... Ifeakandu’s writing of relationships reveals the deeply human experience of compromise, tension, and betrayal that permeates our connections with one another. An intoxicating debut and a fresh perspective on love, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is a marvel to delight in.
—Kaitlynn Cassady, Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Readers of Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous and Anthony Veasna So's Afterparties will be delighted to discover God's Children Are Little Broken Things, a dazzling collection of stories about the private lives of contemporary Nigerians. It is at once deeply intimate, emotionally resonant, and full of the vulnerability that comes when our interior selves are at odds with exterior expectations. I am most thankful to be a bookseller when it means discovering a fresh, necessary new voice like Arinze Ifeakandu.
—Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop
Arinze Ifeakandu is a new revolutionary. This collection of stories is so necessary to understanding the world we live in today. Queerness, closetedness, myriad representations of love: all are present in this critically and culturally important work. Ifeakandu is an important new voice in queer African literature.
—Shane Mullen, Left Bank Books
Human connection—its rapture, danger, and delicacy—is at the core of each of Arinze Ifeakandu's nine stories, and he illuminates its many facets with agility and sensitivity. This resplendent debut brims with the boundless energy and existential ache of discovery and loss… Ifeakandu's characters keep searching for and celebrating every moment of love and euphoria they can find. A collection that will keep tugging on you long after you finish.
—Anna Weber, White Whale Bookstore
In this short story, “God’s Children Are Little Broken Things,” shortlisted for the African Caine Prize in 2018, emerging Nigerian writer Arinze Ifeakandu captures the particular anguish of the body tensed, even trapped, at a wounded crossroads between desire and violence. He is one of several young queer Nigerian writers intimately narrating the body — how it yearns, receives, clenches, and bruises.
—Erik Gleibermann, Los Angeles Book of Reviews
In refreshingly wielded prose, Ifeakandu paints a glowing tale of love and friendship set on the campus of the University of Nigeria.
—Otosirieze Obi-Young, Brittle Paper
“The Dreamer’s Litany” is a tense and fractured love story full of unexpected twists and turns that often take place away from home, after the sun goes down.
—Patrick Ryan, One Story
Publishers Weekly Featured LGBTQ Book of 2022
Electric Literature Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Summer 2022
Nine blazing stories about the joys and tribulations of queer love in contemporary Nigeria.
The stories of Ifeakandu’s debut collection are nothing less than breathtaking and daring, each exploring queer relationships in all their nuanced and unpredictable configurations: secret romances, brief but passionate encounters, relationships that are tested by cultural pressures. At the centers of these carefully constructed stories are queer men whose identities and romances are constantly ruptured by political turmoil and by stratified social and cultural ideas of masculinity. What, these characters ask themselves, makes a man? How to reconcile the tension between one’s interior self—one’s burning hopes and desires—and the expectations that family and tradition have foisted on him? The opening story, “The Dreamer’s Litany,” examines the relationship between Auwal, a small-business owner, and Chief, a wealthy and flamboyant man who promises to help Auwal with his business for a price; the two men develop a sexual relationship, though Auwal is not convinced he can really trust Chief and his wife begins to suspect there’s something taking place between them. “Where the Heart Sleeps” is a moving tale of Nonye, a young woman returning to her father’s house for his funeral. There, she gradually opens up to Tochukwu, her father’s partner, whom she has resented for taking her father from her mother and her. The title story follows the romance of Lotanna and Kamsi, two college boys who must constantly renegotiate their commitments to each other as family and social pressure threaten to pry them apart. In “What the Singers Say About Love,” a young musician’s ascent into the public eye requires that he subdue major pieces of himself and pull away from the man he loves. Using a variety of forms, including stories broken up into numbered sections and stories employing first-, second-, and third-person narrators, many of these tales bear the emotional weight and complexity of novels, with the reader pulled forward by lucid prose and excellent pacing. Most compelling, though, are the unforgettable characters and the relationships that hurl them into the unknown and dangerous depths of their desires.
Deftly capturing the richness and dangers of romantic connection, these stories complicate and reimagine queer narratives.