Books

Friday Black

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut short story collection takes a satirical look at being young and Black in America.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

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 America.

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. (From Mariner Books)

From the book

et to your sections!" Angela screams.

Ravenous humans howl. Our gate whines and rattles as they shake and pull, their grubby fingers like worms through the grating. I sit atop a tiny cabin roof made of hard plastic. My legs hang near the windows, and fleeces hang inside of it. I hold my reach, an eight-foot-long metal pole with a small plastic mouth at the end for grabbing hangers off the highest racks. I also use my reach to smack down Friday heads. It's my fourth Black Friday. On my first, a man from Connecticut bit a hole into my tricep. His slobber hot. I left the sales floor for ten minutes so they could patch me up. Now I have a jagged smile on my left arm. A sickle, half circle, my lucky Friday scar. I hear Richard's shoes flopping toward me. "You ready, big guy?" he asks. I open one eye and look at him. I've never not been ready, so I don't say anything and close my eyes again. "I get it; I get it. Eye of the tiger! I like it," Richard says. I nod slowly. He's nervous. He's a district manager, and this is the Prominent Mall. We're the biggest store in his territory. We're supposed to do a million over the next thirty days. Most of it's on me.


From Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah ©2018. Published by Mariner Books.

Interviews

The New York Times has called Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut collection of stories "powerful and important and strange and beautiful." His writing is being compared to George Saunders, one of the most acclaimed fiction writers alive, and Roxanne Gay, who's easily one of the most powerful voices of her generation. Gay's review can be summed up in a three-word quote: "read this book." The book in question is called Friday Black and it's about race, class and code-switching. It also asks us to think about consumerism, justice and the kind of world we want to create, as well as love and the reckoning that comes with our life decisions. Adjei-Brenyah spoke with guest host Saroja Coelho to chat about his sudden rise, the themes in his work and how he categorizes a book as far-reaching as Friday Black. 19:45

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