God’s Children Are Little Broken Things: Stories by Arinze Ifeakandu

God's Children Are Little Broken Things: Stories

Arinze Ifeakandu has written an important book that everyone should read. There is a fragility and brokenness about this book that makes me want to hold the characters tightly, softly, soothingly, whispering kind words to them, to share space and solidarity with them.

God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is a book about broken men in a broken world. The emotional need created in this book is so palpable I felt like I could touch it; the longing to be seen, present, and accepted.

This beautiful collection of stories has gay men at the center of each plot which makes me so happy. Arinze centers them on how important conversations are put on the list; first, they are prominent and necessary. When you hear conversations about queer people, gay men get the most heat. This is because people can’t fathom the idea of idolized masculinity being vulnerable to another man. You are supposed to maintain a personality in which vulnerability is not inclusive. But men love, and love makes you vulnerable, and that’s okay. Arinze shows us vulnerable men in all their softness, which is so beautiful to watch. He also shows us the everyday struggles of gay men in a heavily homophobic country, Nigeria.

I do not know how to be without my family,” he said. “I was raised to need them. ‘After you’ve trekked round the world and you’re dirty and smelly,’ our mother used to say, ‘return home, and your brother will bathe and feed you.

The above quote pretty much sums up one of the reasons why queer people suffer a lot of emotional trauma. Queer people cannot live their truth even when the laws allow it because of the hate likely to come from their homophobic families. Family is very important to the African person; many of us live for validation from our families. Many gay people, for the sake of their sanity, have cut families away, it hurts them, but it’s necessary for their mental health and stability. This is the reality of queer people. It’s either live in a lie and be accepted by family or live your truth and be without one. And I use family here as people related by blood.

There is something about the language Arinze used in this book. It is cautious, broken, soft, and daring at the same time. I love his use of words like he owned the language and could use the words as he pleased. It was such a delight to read language written that way.

I highly recommend this book from the deepest part of my heart and soul, with my generation and gods backing me. This is a 5-star read and deserves all the flowers.

“There was no reward in loving boys, he’d concluded the evening Idris had told him he was leaving. It made you the most hated person in the world, and for what? Heartache, betrayal”

“I wanted desperately to be a girl, so that I could place my arm in the crook of his arm and walk around with him all evening, and it would be okay; people would whisper She’s so possessive, so insecure, and it would still be okay.”

This is not the sort of surrender I long for, Auwal wanted to say. Outside the window tonight, a light precipitation fell, making the air soft. Auwal wanted to hold Chief, wanted to be held by him. If he moved away from the window and went to his phone on the dresser, he would see the five missed calls from Maryam—he had been counting—but he did not want to go home tonight and look her in the face and lie that he had been at the shop.

Nasiba Mbabe Bawa

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