God’s Children Are Little Broken Things
—Finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize for Fiction
God’s Children Are Little Broken Things
In nine exhilarating stories of queer love in contemporary Nigeria, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things announces the arrival of a daring new voice in fiction.
A man revisits the university campus where he lost his first love, aware now of what he couldn’t understand then. A young musician rises to fame at the price of pieces of himself, and the man who loves him. Arinze Ifeakandu explores with tenderness and grace the fundamental question of the heart: can deep love and hope be sustained in spite of the dominant expectations of society, and great adversity.
was born in Kano, Nigeria. An AKO Caine Prize for African Writing finalist and A Public Space Writing Fellow, he is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in A Public Space, Guernica, the Kenyon Review, One Story, and Redemption Song and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2018. God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is his first book.
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…Deftly capturing the richness and dangers of romantic connection, these stories complicate and reimagine queer narratives.
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.
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 prizewinner 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
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
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
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!
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 Little Stranger
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
Contemporary love stories with moments of real surprise and revelation.
Brandon Taylor, author of Filthy Animals
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
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
[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
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
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 Mag
Passionate, profound and pulsing with life, this is a remarkable debut.
Eithne Farry, Daily Mail
In writing the nine stories in God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, Arinze Ifeakandu spent time with each character, keenly observing, asking the right questions, and learning their pleasure, history, joy, and rage…Ifeakandu sees people.
Kemi Falodun, Olongo Africa
Arinze Ifeakandu is a master observer, immortalizing the complex situations where queerness and Nigerian existence intersect.
Nelson C.J, i-D
Arinze Ifeakandu proves himself the kind of writer who can catch you off balance with sudden, lucid slants of feeling…These angry and compassionate stories are full of such moments, when an oppressive system is brought into dreadful focus through the lens of private suffering.
Edmund Gordon, The Times Literary Supplement
A beautifully written series of stories about queer lives and loves in contemporary Nigeria… There are youthful yearnings, tender moments and callous disregard: all underscored by the need for secrecy in a country where homosexuality still carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Sally Hayden, The Irish Times
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, as the queer Nigerians at their centers bond with and pull away from their families, their communities, and one another. Even when divorce, death, and grief reformat a family or a relationship, even when the possibility of castigation or violence becomes acute, 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
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, and 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
Open Country, Featured 50+ Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Poets & Writers, Eloghosa Osunde on writers who deserve greater recognition
Berkley Forum, Arinze Ifeakandu asks “What’s a Prayer?”
Publishers Weekly, Featured LGBTQ Book of 2022
The Bookseller, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things acquired by W&N in UK deal
Kenyon Review, "Happy Is a Doing Word"
One Story, Look Homeward, Angel: An Interview with Arinze Ifeakandu
Open Country, Arinze Ifeakandu: Book Launch & Event Dates for God’s Children Are Little Broken Things
CLMP, Featured in 2022 Pride Month Reading List
Largehearted Boy, Book Notes Feature
Afrocritik, A Public Space Releases God’s Children Are Little Broken Things
BET, Featured in Pride Month Reading List
BusinessDay, Featured in Pride Month Reading List
Open Country, Photos: Arinze Ifeakandu’s Book Launch in New York City
Electric Literature, Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Summer 2022
Words Without Borders, A Complicated Relationship with Home: An Interview with Arinze Ifeakandu
Poets & Writers, First Fiction 2022: Jamel Brinkley introduces Arinze Ifeakandu’s God’s Children Are Little Broken Things
The PEN Ten, An Interview with Arinze Ifeakandu
Kirkus, 6 Works of LGBTQ+ Fiction to Read for Pride Month
LitHub, WATCH: Arinze Ifeakandu and Brandon Taylor on Queer Love in Fiction
Ploughshares, “Smiling Days”
i-D Vice, Interview: Arinze Ifeakandu writes bittersweet stories of Nigerian queerness
The British Blacklist, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things as a Recommended Read for August
Culture of Encounter and the Global Agenda, “Terrors Everywhere”
Kirkus Prize for Fiction Finalist
Fictionable, “Night Birds”
Full Stop, Interview