Review: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black Summary

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From the start of this extraordinary debut, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country.

These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In “The Finkelstein Five,” Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In “Zimmer Land,” we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And “Friday Black” and “How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King” show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.

Entirely fresh in its style and perspective, and sure to appeal to fans of Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, and George Saunders, Friday Black confronts readers with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

Friday Black Review

 

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Hi y’all!  So we’re starting off reviews of the new year with Friday Black, which has been a much-hyped collection of short stories.  And y’all, I’m obsessed.  

First off, let me just give a side shout to whoever designed this book, because the cover is the most eye-catching thing I’ve seen in a while.  Actually a piece of art, and it does the collection justice!

So, I initially read this one as my side-read while trying to get through Queen of Air and Darkness (because a good short story breaks up the drama well!) and instead, I ended up flying through it.

This is, like so many of the books we’ve seen recently, a timely read.  Each story is a parable of sorts, warning America away from a future that looks all too near, from tales of cannibalistic Black Friday shoppers to a world where a genetically-modified society values truth above all else.  

While it is indeed a collection of stories separate from one another, there are some hints that the stories take place in the same universe, if at different time periods.  They are all futuristic and dabble in a sort of magical realism, some more so than others.  

What the stories all have in common is their exploration of black identity in our changing world — this is a difficult subject to tackle, but Adjei-Brenyah does it with grace in fresh stories that are wholly accessible to the everyday reader.  The first story in the collection, “The Finkelstein 5”, sets the tone for the series in portraying the aftermath of the shooting of five black children by a white man, and its events are eerily close to some of those in the present day, so much so that the outcome is scarily believable.  From there, the stories escalate into the strange and the outlandish, each one as gripping as the next.  In my opinion, this quick read is a must.

Til next time,

 

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