Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
by Sidik Fofana
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Pub Date 16 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 16 Aug 2022
Set in a Harlem high rise, a stunning debut about a tight-knit cast of characters grappling with their own personal challenges while the forces of gentrification threaten to upend life as they know it.
Like Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place and Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Sidik Fofana’s electrifying collection of eight interconnected stories showcases the strengths, struggles, and hopes of one residential community in a powerful storytelling experience.
Each short story follows a tenant in the Banneker Homes, a low-income high rise in Harlem where gentrification weighs on everyone’s mind. There is Swan in apartment 6B, whose excitement about his friend’s release from prison jeopardizes the life he’s been trying to lead. Mimi, in apartment 14D, who hustles to raise the child she had with Swan, waitressing at Roscoe’s and doing hair on the side. And Quanneisha B. Miles, a former gymnast with a good education who wishes she could leave Banneker for good, but can’t seem to escape the building’s gravitational pull. We root for these characters and more as they weave in and out of each other’s lives, endeavoring to escape from their pasts and blaze new paths forward for themselves and the people they love.
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs brilliantly captures the joy and pain of the human experience and heralds the arrival of a uniquely talented writer.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 26 members
The fictional low-income high rise that Sidik Fofana sets his collection of short stories comes vividly and fantastically alive thanks to the incredible extent to which he has fleshed out his cast. Every one of his characters gets to tell their own personal tale of their struggles and dreams in their own unique voice - quite literally. Many of the chapters are first person narratives written exactly how Fofana has decided his characters will speak, and in turn allowed me to feel like I could hear these completely fictional people narrating their lives if I had just run into them out on the street.
Between the aforementioned and the beautifully messy tangle through which characters’ lives intersect with one another from chapter to chapter, it ended up being quite difficult for me to tear myself away from "Stories from the Tenants Downstairs", and I ended up enthusiastically devouring most of it in the span of a single morning. Fofana’s debut work is definitely not to be passed up, and I greatly look forward to seeing more from him in the future.
Sidik Fofana's collection of stories will grab you from the first page and keep you reading until the last word. The book contains seven chapters, each told from the point of view of someone living in a low income housing building in Harlem. The stories are as varied as the characters, but they all have the common thread of the struggle of dealing with the reality of the world around them while trying to stay true to themselves. Each story contains threads of hope as the characters try to come to terms with gentrification and what it ultimately means in their current and future lives.
Fofana creates believable characters who are truly human. They have hopes, dreams, and flaws. They make mistakes and attempt to recover from them. They often see what they want to see, and the point of view of each is powerful. This book is at times eye opening, at times heartfelt and at times heartbreaking. As each story progresses you are drawn into the hopes and desires of each character, but also into their reality, and often the disappointment of the futility of their efforts. Each is fighting against a system that has already made decisions about them, but yet they continue to move forward and try to create a better life ahead for themselves and those they love.
Fofana's voice is strong and unique. I am excited to read more from him.
A relevant, pertinent collection of stories that packs an emotional punch!
Bannekar Terrace is a low-income high-rise in Harlem. The residents are struggling, not only because of their everyday worries, but also because gentrification is on the horizon and they might be forced out of the place they’ve called home for life.
This is a collection of eight stories that connect in various ways. We hear from a waitress and young mother who is doing her best to make ends meet, a paraprofessional educator whose stress never seems to end, a young man who acknowledges his lack of ambition and wants to make a change, as well as other tenants.
This is the debut novel of Sidik Fofana, although three of his stories have appeared in other publications. His writing is exquisite and powerful. I cared deeply about the tenants, and couldn’t get enough. That’s no small achievement, considering the book has eight stories and runs just over 200 pages. Fofana hooked me with each perspective. He paints a scene that is realistic, emotional, and intimate. The characters each speak in their own distinct way, and that adds to the authenticity and flow.
I expect this is a book that many will be talking about closer to publication date..and after. I’m looking forward to reading more of Fofana’s work, and highly recommend this one.
Thank you to Scribner for providing a physical ARC, as well as a digital ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Expected Publication Date: 8/16/22.
Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com
A strong chorus of voices inside a cohesive concept and vivid snapshot of life inside a project housing building in New York City. The strongest part of these interconnected lives is the use of voice, with each character and their stories being brought to bright reality through effective use of language and description. Heartbreaking, heartwarming, realistic, and poetic all in one, this is an incredibly strong book.
I enjoyed all the stories in this book. Such heartache, sadness, terror, and emotions. This author has real talent making the human condition come to life..
My first book to read by this author but definitely not my last! Such a gripping novel that made it hard for me to put his book down once I started it. Highly recommend!!
The author brings us into the lives of people living in Harlem in a low income apartment building,.The characters come alive doing their best to survive,Reading this involving story brings the tenants their struggles alive.This was astory I was involved in from first page to last will be recommending this author this book.netgalley #scribner
An amazing debut from Sidik Fofana, a school teacher in Brooklyn! Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is a collection of eight short stories that each are written from the point of view of a tenant living in Bannekar Terrace, a low-income high-rise in Harlem. His storytelling is exceptional and he gives life and depth to his characters. This book provides intimate and emotional perspectives from characters struggling not only with everyday worries like making rent, but bigger concerns with gentrification threatening the future of their homes. I highly recommend this book, coming out in August!
Thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for this ARC!
Thank you to Netgalley andScribnerfor an eARC.
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is a collection of eight short stories that each are written from the point of view of a tenant living in Bannekar Terrace, a low-income high-rise in Harlem. I enjoyed reading about these people and how they were all connected to Bannekar Terrace. The writing style was a bit hard to follow at times because Sidik Fofana did so well at writing how the characters would speak. This helped pull you into the stories and become part of Bannekar Terrace. All in all a great ready and I look forward to more to come from Sidik Fofana.
I love novels written in short stories. Sidik Fofana knits a beautiful narrative of the Banneker Terrace apartments in Harlem and its complicated tenants. Each chapter is written with a new voice from ex-gymnast and college drop-out, Neisha, to middle schooler and wannabe hip hop dancer, Najee, to several others.
The underlying concern for each of the tenants is gentrification in Harlem. Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is a righteous political statement and creative experiment as Fofana asks us to look into the tenants as individuals facing systemic injustice.
This book is a necessary and impactful read. This book is one we should be talking about. Read this book, especially if you are interested in:
• gentrification in Harlem
• Harlem culture
• poverty and systemic injustice
Thank you Scribner and NetGalley for the eARC! Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is a collection of interconnected short stories detailing the lives of different people living in Banneker Terrace, a low income high rise building in Harlem, as they face gentrification and displacement. The universe that Sidik Fofana creates within the Banneker Terrace is incredibly raw and drew me in immediately from the first story. The portrayal of gentrification and hardship is so well written and relevant to what is happening currently in so many communities that it felt like I was reading genuine accounts of people rather than a fictional novel. A new favorite and a very important read!
I was very thankful to get to read this collection of stories. There was so much resonance into the gentrification in Harlem and what will mean for those that live one day to the next. These stories captured the interconnection that we all have in this world and how the smallest interaction can bring our lives together in a meaningful way, whether it be physically or some other way. I think that the author really did a great job of capturing emotion and a compelling purpose for each of the people in these stories and I left this book wanting to read more. I think so many people write off people that are living the struggle life and refuse to believe that they too are people and have needs and desires as well. I want to read more from this author in the future. Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs weaves the lives of multiple people living in the same building in Harlem together through short stories. I loved seeing how all of these characters were connected and how the speech patterns changed with each one. You could really tell that you were in someone’s story and how they were different. Overall this was a great concept and good read!
This is a debut???? Sidik Fofana has written a jewel of a book -- a collection of eight interconnected stories that feature different residents in a low income Harlem High Rise. Banneker Homes has just been sold and the new owners are attempting to push out the current residents.
Each short story follows a tenant in the Banneker Homes, a low-income high rise in Harlem where gentrification weighs on everyone’s mind. There are single mothers, college drop outs, middle schoolers, hairdressers and waitresses...everyone is doing their best to stay afloat and support their loved ones. These stories will break your heart and you will think of the characters for a long, long time. As a teacher, the school chapter really hit home.
There is a bit of hopefulness woven throughout the book that keeps the glued to the page! What an achievement, If you like fantastic writing, interconnected stories, real life and urban living, then Stories From the Tenants Downstairs is for you!.#Scribner #NetGalley#Netgalleyreads #StoriesFromtheTenantsDownstairs #SidikFofana
This was an impressive debut and short story collection. Despite the differences between each character, at the core, they were all struggling with the gentrification of their home and how to thrive in their changing world. I was fortunate enough to have the audio as well and I really enjoyed reading along with the audio. The narrators are fantastic! Thank you for this e-copy.
This was a beautifully-written collection of connected short stories that follow tenants of a high-rise in Harlem. Each story is written from the unique perspective of individual tenants and each story had a distinct voice that set it apart. I felt all the feelings while reading this. The stories are gritty and raw and I was completely immersed in it from the first word to the last.
I was so impressed with this and I’m shocked that I haven’t heard more buzz about it since the author is clearly so talented.
Stories From the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana
Happy publication day to Stories From the Tenants Downstairs! What an incredible debut 🙌🏻
This story follows intertwined characters in a building in Harlem as they deal with personal struggles, while also fighting to keep their apartments amidst rising rent prices.
If you read this one, I highly recommend the audiobook! I was blown away by the cast of narrators and how each character had its own narrator. It made the audiobook such an incredible experience 🎶
I loved how each character’s story related to the story before, and how the reader got to see how everyone’s lived played out even when their story was over. Each story was unique, and I just couldn’t stop listening.
Fofana is a powerful storyteller, who was also able to weave very important social topics into the story.
This is a book I highly recommend for everyone!!
Thank you @scribnerbooks for the #gifted e-copy and @simon.audio for the #gifted audiobook!
Heartbreaking and hopeful but evocative all the same, Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is a compelling debut that seemed too short when I finished the final story. There's no gloss over the "resilience" the residents of Banneker Homes must summon as a result of impending gentrification. Fofana doesn't ask the reader to feel one type of way about each tenant's situation, but hands each story to us as-is for the reader to decide. That act showed immense respect to the characters to me, and leaves me watching the author for what comes next.
In Stories from the Tenants Downstairs, Sidik Fofana offers eight different first-person stories—each of them from a resident of a Harlem apartment tower that's being gentrified. The individual stories are painful. Sometimes that pain comes with a sense of hope; sometimes it doesn't. The reader gets to put these stories together as she reads, identifying common characters and concerns across them. This was a fast read, but one that was rich with detail and never felt rushed.
I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
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