This story grabs the reader from the get-go and won’t release its grip. A want-to-be mother loses her baby and immediately must craft another from found materials (wool, hair, raffia) until one is blessed and survives; “The yarn baby lasted a good month, emitting dry, cotton-soft gurgles and pooping little balls of lint, before Ogechi snagged its thigh on a nail and it unraveled.” Like all the pieces in this collection the story is both adventurous and almost too close to home in its explorations of the pains and pressures of infertility, child loss and motherhood. Babies that are “pillowy” or “porcelain” cannot become flesh because ‘Soft children with hard lives go mad or die young’. Dreams and emotions are siphoned off and traded in a strangely familiar world and relationships between women take a sinister turn.
First published in The New Yorker, October 2015 and available to subscribers to read here. Collected in What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Penguin Random House, 2017