Plus, receive recommendations and exclusive offers on all of your favorite books and authors from Simon & Schuster.
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
Table of Contents
About The Book
“A standout achievement…American speech is an underused commodity in contemporary fiction and it’s a joy to find such a vital example of it here.” —The Wall Street Journal
From a superb new literary talent, a rich, lyrical collection of stories 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.
At Banneker Terrace, everybody knows everybody, or at least knows of them. Longtime tenants’ lives are entangled together in the ups and downs of the day-to-day, for better or for worse. The neighbors in the unit next door are friends or family, childhood rivals or enterprising business partners. In other words, Harlem is home. But the rent is due, and the clock of gentrification—never far from anyone’s mind—is ticking louder now than ever.
In eight interconnected stories, Sidik Fofana conjures a residential community under pressure. 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, hustles to raise the child she had with Swan, waitressing at Roscoe’s and doing hair on the side. And Quanneisha B. Miles, in apartment 21J, is 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 the tight-knit cast of characters as they weave in and out of one another’s narratives, working to escape their pasts and blaze new paths forward for themselves and the people they love. All the while we brace, as they do, for the challenges of a rapidly shifting future.
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs brilliantly captures the joy and pain of the human experience in this “singular accomplishment from a writer to watch” (Library Journal, starred review).
- Publisher: Scribner (August 16, 2022)
- Length: 224 pages
- ISBN13: 9781982145811
Browse Related Books
Raves and Reviews
"Few writers can inhabit multiple characters with equal intensity and vivacity, and most who can are, of course, playwrights or screenwriters...Sidik Fofana’s debut collection reveals him to have this rare gift."--Harpers
“A standout achievement... American speech is an underused commodity in contemporary fiction and it’s a joy to find such a vital example of it here."–The Wall Street Journal
“Fofana’s debut is impressive — his characters exude life and the different voices stay with the reader long after the book has been shelved.”--The Boston Globe
“Outstanding… Stories From the Tenants Downstairs masterfully paints a portrait of the people most impacted by gentrification.”–The New York Times Book Review
“It’s impossible not to get sucked into this debut effort.”–Essence
“Fofana deftly steers away from stereotypes and into the psychological interior of each character's life. And he does this so powerfully through voice. Each story in the collection is a lesson in how language defines character — and, therefore, reality.”–The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Fofana acts as both storyteller and anthropologist, brilliantly capturing the scrapes, scents, and spirit of this gentrifying neighborhood… Stories from the Tenants Downstairs aches with powerlessness against tides of gentrification and poverty. At the same time, its boisterous cast of characters seems to embody a new power — the power in telling one’s own story.”—Chapter 16
“The portraits are conveyed in tight-woven, propulsive, rhythmically rich vernacular… A singular accomplishment from a writer to watch.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“Fofana shows an ear for pacing and for evocative, frequently musical language... A striking voice, and his protagonists will linger in readers' imaginations."–Shelf Awareness
"The residents of a low-income high-rise apartment building in Harlem form the beating heart of Fofana’s dynamic debut collection... These engrossing and gritty stories of tenuous living in a gentrifying America enchant."
–Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
“Captivating... vividly and desperately authentic.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A collection that will make your jaw drop several times... What a gift Fofana’s writing is, especially now."
–Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck
“Stories from The Tenants Downstairs heralds an indelible, inimitable new literary voice... This magnificent collection is not only a great joy to read, it’s evocative, essential art.”
–Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math and The Residue Years
"[Fofana] has given us a beautiful blueprint for the gentrification story: let it be bold, let it honor the complexities of those who are struggling to hold on... The voices of the residents of Banneker Terrace linger and echo long after the last page."
–Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
"What [Sidik Fofana] does with these stories, and with our beautiful, bottomless American language, is nothing short of revelatory. Buy this book, and prepare to be blasted by the brilliance inside."
–Ben Fountain, author of Beautiful Country Burn Again
“Mr. Fofana has an acute ear and a perfect eye, and he doesn’t rush. This is important American art.”
–Lorrie Moore, author of Bark
Resources and Downloads
High Resolution Images
Book Cover Image (jpg): Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
Author Photo (jpg): Sidik Fofana
Photograph by Roque Nonini(0.1 MB)
Any use of an author photo must include its respective photo credit
You may also like: Thriller and Mystery Staff Picks
More to Explore
Our Summer Reading Recommendations
Red-hot romances, poolside fiction, and blockbuster picks, oh my! Start reading the hottest books of the summer.
This Month's New Releases
From heart-pounding thrillers to poignant memoirs and everything in between, check out what's new this month.