THE TINY THINGS ARE HEAVIER d’Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo

A stunning debut exploring the hardships of migration, the subtleties of Nigeria’s class system, and how far we’ll go to protect those we love.

by Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo
Bloomsbury, June 2025
(via Writers House)

THE TINY THINGS ARE HEAVIER follows Sommy, a Nigerian woman who comes to the United States for graduate school two weeks after her brother, Mezie, attempts suicide. Plagued by the guilt of leaving Mezie behind, Sommy struggles to fit into her new life as a student and an immigrant. She soon enters a complicated relationship with her boisterous Nigerian roommate, Bayo, a relationship that plummets into a web of lies and deceit when Sommy meets Bryan, a biracial American, whose estranged Nigerian father left the States immediately after his birth. Bonded by their feelings of unbelonging and a vague sense of kinship, Sommy and Bryan transcend the challenges of their new relationship.

After a year together, Sommy and Bryan visit Lagos, Nigeria for the summer break, where Sommy reunites with Mezie and Bryan gets a lead on his father. But when Mezie accidentally commits manslaughter in a drunken fit of fear, Sommy and Bryan react to the crime in vastly different ways, exposing the cracks in their relationship and forcing Sommy to confront her notions of self and familial love.

A deeply moving and gorgeously written novel about family, grief, privilege, and coming-of-age within cultural rupture, THE TINY THINGS ARE HEAVIER will appeal to readers of Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom, and Jessica George’s Maame.

Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a second-year PhD student in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her fiction has appeared in Isele Magazine, Guernica, and Catapult. She’s a recipient of the 2021 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant.

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