The residents of a low-income high-rise apartment building in Harlem form the beating heart of Fofana’s dynamic debut collection. The hardscrabble tenants of Banneker Terrace tread water while their greedy landlord imposes evictions... Fofana delivers the hardy, profane, violent, and passionate narration in Black English Vernacular, and finds the humanity in all her characters as they struggle to get by. These engrossing and gritty stories of tenuous living in a gentrifying America enchant."
–Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
“Eight interconnected stories set in a low-income Harlem high rise give faces, voices, and meaning to lives otherwise neglected or marginalized. The stories assembled in this captivating debut collection feel vividly and desperately authentic. ‘Ms. Dallas’ may well be the collection’s most caustically observant and poignantly tender story. Those willing to use their ears more than their eyes to read along will find a rich, ribald, and engagingly funny vein of verbal music, as up-to-the-minute as hip-hop, but as rooted in human verities as Elizabethan dialogue. The publisher compares this book to Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. One could also invoke James Joyce’s Dubliners in the stories’ collective and multilayered evocation of place, time, and people. A potentially significant voice in African American fiction asserts itself with wit and compassion.”
–Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"In the same way that Gordon Parks captured the brilliance of ordinary Americans, Sidik Fofana elevates the every day through his vivid depictions of Banneker Terrace's captivating residents. Yes, Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is funny, and yes, it is a collection that will make your jaw drop several times, but its true power lies in what it has to say about community, and how this road called life is more bearable when we walk it together. 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. Sidik’s stories are full of humanity and humor and hope, full of insight into the plight of people too often pushed to the margins of America-the-dream. By the end of this collection, the tenants of Banneker Terrace felt as intimate as my own neighbors, friends, family—a testament to the immense fullness with which Sidik portrayed their lives. 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
"Sidik Fofana's timely collection is full of tenderness and truth. With it, he 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. These stories are at once intimate and familiar, and utterly original. I braced myself, I laughed, and I shuddered. The voices of the residents of Banneker Terrace linger and echo long after the last page. A tremendous debut!"
–Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
"Every once in a while a new writer comes along and refreshes our notions of what fiction can do. Sidik Fofana is one of those rare and wonderful writers, and what he 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
“Sidik Fofana’s Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is the book I’ve been waiting for ever since reading the first few of Mr. Fofana's stories eight years ago. I had never read anything quite like them. They have brilliant architecture that can go unnoticed beneath the carefully textured voices. The author knows this community and its predicaments and has assembled a cast that will break your heart but also at times put your heart back together 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