INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“An unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice.” —Tommy Orange, New York Times Book Review
“An excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny.” —George Saunders
“Dark and captivating and essential . . . A call to arms and a condemnation . . . Read this book.” —Roxane Gay
A National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, chosen by Colson Whitehead
Winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Award for Best First 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We feel changed after reading Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s strange, magical, and explosive debut collection. With his ingeniously bizarre takes on everyday life, Adjei-Brenyah’s stories deal with what it means to be black in America; the searing “Zimmer Land” imagines racism as a new competitive sport, while the book’s title story presents a vision of retail apocalypse. Still, for all the stinging satire, these humanist parables are colored with an implicit belief in our better nature. Adjei-Brenyah’s urgent writing and shrewd wit seriously made us stop and think—once we could finally put Friday Black down.
Adjei-Brenyah dissects the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and racism in this debut collection of stingingly satirical stories. The arguments that exonerate a white man for brutally murdering five black children with a chainsaw in "The Finkelstein 5" highlight the absurdity of America's broken criminal justice system. "Zimmer Land" imagines a future entertainment park where players enter an augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors. The title story is one of several set in a department store where the store's best salesman learns to translate the incomprehensible grunts of vicious, insatiable Black Friday shoppers. He returns in "How to Sell a Jacket as Told by IceKing" to be passed over for a promotion despite his impeccable record. Some stories take a narrower focus, such as "The Lion & the Spider," in which a high school senior has to take a demanding job to keep money flowing into his family's house after his father's disappearance. In "Light Spitter," a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory. "Through the Flash" spins a dystopian Groundhog Day in which victims of an unexplained weapon relive a single day and resort to extreme violence to cope. Adjei-Brenyah has put readers on notice: his remarkable range, ingenious premises, and unflagging, momentous voice make this a first-rate collection.