About the book:
A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it’s like to be young and black in America.
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.
About the author:
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is from Spring Valley, New York. He graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including Guernica, Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing, Printer’s Row, Gravel, and The Breakwater Review, where he was selected by ZZ Packer as the winner of the 2nd Annual Breakwater Review Fiction Contest. Friday Black is his first book.
"Riveting. Every word. An impassioned interrogation of the human condition on the blackhand side, a true work of wonder, just reeking of significance. Here be Nana Kwame, scaling all manner of emotional registers while maintaining a stunning textual authority. And just when you think you've settled in, here comes Anansi and the Twelve-Tongued God working other dimensions in a seamless blend. He makes it look effortless but the clarity of the craft is self-evident, a numinous voice powering stories and characters that will inhabit your consciousness long after you've finished it and tried to put it down. In this impressive debut of a literary voice both new and edgy, we find an ancient griot telling stories of startling grace, gathering folk around the sacred fire and word by word forging the visions without which the people would perish. Testimony."
-- Arthur Flowers, author of Another Good Loving Blues and I See the Promised Land
One of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" honorees, chosen by Colson Whitehead
"One of the most anticipated literary debuts of the fall, Friday Black veers between the surreal and the satirical in its bold take on being young and black in America."
-- Entertainment Weekly
"Reading Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut short story collection Friday Black is like being shaken awake. These stories exist in a sort of hyperreality, ordinary characters living in the not-so-unbelievable, Black Mirror-esque future of a culture that doesn't hesitate to commodify cruelty or monetize revolution...Adjei-Brenyah skewers the ways we brush past racism and injustice, making the absurdity of the rhetoric around both impossible to ignore."
"Adjei-Brenyah's collection promises a searing, exacting look at injustice in America, from the quotidian to the systemic, delivered in a way that makes it impossible to look away."
-- Huffington Post
"The edge of the stories in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut collection Friday Black is razor sharp, ready to cut deep. This book is dark and captivating and essential. This book is a call to arms and a condemnation. Adjei-Brenyah offers powerful prose as parable. The writing in this outstanding collection will make you hurt and demand your hope. Read this book. Marvel at the intelligence of each of these stories and what they reveal about racism, capitalism, complacency and their insidious reach."
-- Roxane Gay
"For literature to bring forth such an astonishing new voice as Nana K. Adjei-Brenyah's--tender and furious, wise and wise-assed--marks a major leap forward for us all. The very first story brought me to tears, putting me in mind of Babel or Chekhov. And Adjei-Brenyah keeps doing that--dragging you through dystopic muck and mire before landing you in a transcendent spiritual place. This is the fiction debut of the year, and I can't cheer it loudly enough. Bravo, young man. We await your encore."
-- Mary Karr
"These stories are an excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny, yet classical in the way they take on stubborn human problems: the depravities of capitalism, love struggling to assert itself within heartless systems. The wildly talented Adjei-Brenyah has made these edgy tales immensely charming, via his resolute, heartful, immensely likeable narrators, capable of seeing the world as blessed and cursed at once."
-- George Saunders
"Stunning...Adjei-Brenyah grapples with many of the most complicated, essential issues of today, from the evils of racism and capitalism to the ways in which violence and inequality are expected parts of life for so many people in America. Adjei-Brenyah's prose grabs you from the beginning and doesn't loosen its grip, as it takes you into the dark corners of the American experience, with a lyricism, dark wit, and palpable emotional weight."
"Searing...Adjei-Brenyah examines, with dark humor and urgent insight, what it's like to be young and black in America...These satirical tales tackle violence, injustice and rampant consumerism with brutal honesty."
-- Chicago Tribune
"The stories in this collection are aching and powerful dispatches on race, violence, and the modern world."
-- Southern Living
"The stories in this debut collection warp the dark realities of American racism into vicious satire."
"Disturbingly dark and extremely brilliant...While the wild inventiveness and piercing insights of Adjei-Brenyah's stories could be described as Saunders-esque, the tough, nimble prose, which isn't afraid to turn brutal or heartbreaking, is purely his own invention."
-- Interview Magazine
"Satirical, edgy, fresh, hard-hitting."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Compelling...A satirical yet unflinching look at what it's like to be black and young in America."
-- New York Observer
"Tackling issues like criminal justice, consumerism, and racism, these timely stories are searching for humanity in a brutal world. The collection is both heartbreaking and hopeful."
-- The Millions
"The stories in the collection have a dystopian bent and are told with dark humor and a clear-eyed understanding of human failings."
-- Poets & Writers
" Friday Black's subject is race, and the stories take on prejudice, racism, and American culture at large in a vivid and memorable way."
"Edgy humor and fierce imagery coexist in these stories with shrewd characterization and humane intelligence, inspired by volatile material sliced off the front pages... Yet Adjei-Brenyah brings to what pundits label our 'ongoing racial dialogue' a deadpan style, an acerbic perspective, and a wicked imagination that collectively upend readers' expectations... Corrosive dispatches from the divided heart of America." -Kirkus Reviews, *STARRED* review
"Adjei-Brenyah dissects the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and racism in this debut collection of stingingly satirical stories... Adjei-Brenyah has put readers on notice: his remarkable range, ingenious premises, and unflagging, momentous voice make this a first-rate collection." -Publishers Weekly, *STARRED* review
"Adjei-Brenyah's dozen stories are disturbingly spectacular, made even more so for what he does with magnifying and exposing the truth...Ominous and threatening, Adjei-Brenyah's debut is a resonating wake-up call to redefine and reclaim what remains of our humanity." -- Booklist, *STARRED* review
"An urgent satiric voice" - Writers to Watch, Publishers Weekly
"A striking collection, by turns witty, insightful and brutally honest. Adjei-Brenyah's inventive language conjures worlds with brevity, specificity and a dark, absurdist humor. An exciting voice."
-- Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and Sorry Please Thank You
"Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has written an exciting, dazzling collection of stories. He writes with a ferocious wit and a big heart. His inventive fictional worlds speak both directly and covertly to this political moment in unexpected and fresh ways. Friday Black marks the thrilling debut of an important new voice in fiction."
-- Dana Spiotta, author of the National Book Award finalist Eat the Document and Innocents and Others
"Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is a name you better get used to saying. The funny, uncompromising voice heard here for the first time, one that's not afraid to wander past the checkpoints of realism in order to get at the nature of the American real, will be with us for a long time to come. 'The Finkelstein Five' already reads like a classic, even though it stings like it was written this morning."
-- Jonathan Dee, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Privileges and The Locals
"Prescient, dark, and deeply empathetic, visceral and inventive, these stories announce Adjei-Brenyah as both an astute cultural critic and a truthteller."
-- Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People
" Friday Black offers us a glimpse of a world held together by both hope and rage. At once strange and hypnotic, uncompromising and merciful, these stories spring from a generous and vivid imagination, singular and expansive. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah offers us a vision of America as we know it, in prose that leads us towards the spectacular and humbles us in its fullness. Follow every advice that tells you to read this book."
-- Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze
"Adjei-Brenyah's haunting collection is a work of modern-day surrealism, offering us tales which speak to the travesties of our time. Here are the stories of Trayvon Martin, of school shootings, of bloodthirsty capitalism and its unending injustices. And here, too, are stories of good people engaged in the spiritual work of love and kindness. Adjei-Brenyah is a radical absurdist, telling truth-tales to help us all see our world more clearly. "
-- Alexander Weinstein, author of Children of the New World
"Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has a cool eye, bright mind, and high style. His stories are solid, they're unusual, imaginative, disturbing, wry, tender, funny. Bursting with surprising language and formal invention, they plant the zeitgeist onto the page. It lives in Friday Black, in all its complexity, trouble, and possibility. Writing this distinctive and good, especially in our uneasy time, is genuinely a cause for celebration."
-- Lynne Tillman, author of Men and Apparitions