Friday Black
In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god.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. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world.

Friday Black Details

TitleFriday Black
Author
ReleaseOct 23rd, 2018
PublisherMariner Books
ISBN-139781328911247
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Science Fiction, Literary Fiction

Friday Black Review

  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    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 it is 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 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 it is 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.
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah Is a "5 Under 35" Honoree 2018 of the National Book Foundation..and this is how you write cutting-edge fiction about the world we live in! Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut is bold, powerful, innovative, and poetic. Every other blurb is randomly claiming that the author of the respective book has a unique voice - this author actually does, and this fall, his short stories are mandatory reading. "Friday Black" encompasses 12 stories, many of them dealing with racism, consu Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah Is a "5 Under 35" Honoree 2018 of the National Book Foundation..and this is how you write cutting-edge fiction about the world we live in! Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut is bold, powerful, innovative, and poetic. Every other blurb is randomly claiming that the author of the respective book has a unique voice - this author actually does, and this fall, his short stories are mandatory reading. "Friday Black" encompasses 12 stories, many of them dealing with racism, consumerism, violence, and the culture of egotism and hate - this book is a comment on today's America (which doesn't mean that some of the issues discussed aren't prevalent in other countries as well). What makes this collection so special is the way the author approaches those topics, introducing fantastical elements, projecting the consequences of the cultural climate on invented scenarios and highlighting tendencies by smartly employing hyperbole. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah wants his readers to look straight into the abyss: A white man kills black kids with a chainsaw and claims self-defense, Black Friday turns a shopping mall into the battleground of the zombie apocalypse, "Good" is now a drug for school children, and there's an amusement park that could have been invented by horror director Eli Roth. On Twitter, Roxane Gay stated that if you like Childish Gambino's "This is America" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYOjW...), you will also love this - and I see where this comparison is coming from. Also, both of these works of art punch you in the face and leave you in complete shock and awe. In case you need more comparisons: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's voice is as recognizable as that of Ottessa Moshfegh, and his disregard for narrative conventions reminds me of Carmen Maria Machado. Oh, and in case I haven't made this clear enough by now: You should READ THIS BOOK. The whole thing is great, but especially "The Finkelstein 5" and "Zimmer Land".
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  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    Fierce and invigorating, the stories in Friday Black demand attention like a slap in the face.This collection inhabits the ‘borderlands’ between genres, to borrow a term from Michael Chabon, sort of literary, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, maybe all-of-the-above at the same time. In one story, it’s hard to tell (in a deliberate, clever way) whether the backdrop is a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland, or just an ordinary shopping mall. Another takes a Groundhog Day scenario to violent extremes Fierce and invigorating, the stories in Friday Black demand attention like a slap in the face.This collection inhabits the ‘borderlands’ between genres, to borrow a term from Michael Chabon, sort of literary, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, maybe all-of-the-above at the same time. In one story, it’s hard to tell (in a deliberate, clever way) whether the backdrop is a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland, or just an ordinary shopping mall. Another takes a Groundhog Day scenario to violent extremes, asking how would people really behave if there were zero consequences, every day ending with a reset? Contemporary issues like race, or rampant consumerism, are explored in surreal and/or futuristic settings.The blend of satire, cultural commentary and high-concept genre entertainment that Adjei-Brenyah employs here brings to mind TV anthology series Black Mirror or the film Get Out. It’s a style perfectly suited to the short story format: each one is a quick, sharp jab that leaves behind a powerful impression quite disproportionate to the time it takes to read. There are no dull moments here, and while a few of the stories were stand-outs, the whole collection is consistently great. 4.5 stars rounded up for sheer gutsiness.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    When a story makes you cry three pages in, you know you're reading something special. 'The Finkelstein 5', the first short story in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut collection, is astounding. It follows a young man named Emmanuel as he prepares for a job interview, taking steps (modifying his voice, wearing smart clothes, smiling and being constantly polite) to ensure his Blackness is dialled down as far as possible. He's happy about the interview, but 'he also felt guilty about feeling happy ab When a story makes you cry three pages in, you know you're reading something special. 'The Finkelstein 5', the first short story in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut collection, is astounding. It follows a young man named Emmanuel as he prepares for a job interview, taking steps (modifying his voice, wearing smart clothes, smiling and being constantly polite) to ensure his Blackness is dialled down as far as possible. He's happy about the interview, but 'he also felt guilty about feeling happy about anything. Most people he knew were still mourning the Finkelstein verdict'. A white man has been found not guilty of any wrongdoing in using a chainsaw to decapitate five black children outside the Finkelstein Library. He claims he was protecting his children. The controversial verdict sparks violent protests by groups known as 'Namers', and on his way to the interview, Emmanuel meets an old friend who is keen to act.This story is ferocious satire, but it's only a hair's breadth from the truth. In the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin and other similar cases, it really isn't that hard to imagine this actually happening. Emmanuel's awareness and regulation of his Blackness is a brilliant articulation of something that will be immediately recognisable to so many – a tactic painfully familiar to anyone who's ever been part of any sort of minority.Nothing else in the book got to me quite like 'The Finkelstein 5', but it's consistently both enjoyable and biting. 'Zimmer Land' is another standout – George Saunders by way of Black Mirror. The narrator works at a theme park where 'patrons' can role-play a scenario in which they are attacked by, and ultimately 'kill', a black assailant. A trio of stories – 'Friday Black', 'How to Sell a Jacket as Told by IceKing', and 'In Retail' – are set at the Prominent Mall and centre on the day-to-day lives of retail workers. Like 'The Finkelstein 5', 'Friday Black' takes reality and stretches it a little out of shape: the stampedes that accompany Black Friday routinely result in multiple deaths (129 last year); customers speak in a garbled language only Black Friday veterans can understand.The collection isn't perfect. 'Lark Street' and 'Light Spitter' both feel like ambitious experiments that don't quite come off. The first is about a man who is haunted by the foetuses his girlriend aborted; the second has a school shooter and his victim teaming up – as ghosts – to try and make things right. I really enjoyed 'Through the Flash', in which a community is trapped in a repeating version of the same day, but like a few of the others it could've done with either editing down or expanding to novel length. Sometimes the concepts are too big for the short-story format.Friday Black is a collection that pulses with ideas and indignation. It incorporates elements of science fiction and magical realism but still has much to say about our lives now. 'The Finkelstein 5' in particular is one of those stories I will never forget.I received an advance review copy of Friday Black from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    Named as one of the most anticipated books of Autumn 2018, Friday Black is a refreshingly original anthology of stories that use fiction as a device to explore and discuss some very prominent real-world issues, and because of that, this is a collection that is thought-provoking and with much substance to it - something that always really appeals to me.Although the stories maintain objectivity, they are also brutally honest about the situation the world is currently in. Amongst the major real-wor Named as one of the most anticipated books of Autumn 2018, Friday Black is a refreshingly original anthology of stories that use fiction as a device to explore and discuss some very prominent real-world issues, and because of that, this is a collection that is thought-provoking and with much substance to it - something that always really appeals to me.Although the stories maintain objectivity, they are also brutally honest about the situation the world is currently in. Amongst the major real-world issues that are explored are discrimination (between races, cultures etc), prejudice, capitalism/capitalistic societies, consumerism and materialism. These are merely a few of the problems that make up the core of each of the twelve tales. This is a refreshing, exciting and compelling way to view contemporary subjects.This is a wonderful compilation of short stories that speak to the world we currently inhabit. Unless you've been burying your head in the sand for many a long year (actually, more like a couple of decades), each of these separate concerns should be already known to you. Friday Black shines a light on these matters bringing them to the forefront of our minds. This is one of the most enjoyable books I've had the pleasure to read this year, and it certainly lives up to the title of 'most anticipated of 2018'. Friday Black makes the reader think about the state of the world and our future here on earth, it does also have a message of hope which, in my opinion, is absolutely vital right now. Despite having finished reading this quite a while ago, I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. It feels like a book that will leave an indelible imprint both in my mind and in my heart for the foreseeable. I am already pining for more from Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah., please don't wait too long, we readers need to read more of your wonderful work. This is not only deserving of a wide readership, but it is also worthy of the full five stars! Many thanks to riverrun for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    FRIDAY BLACK is hard to explain. The best I can do is say that it's like if BLACK MIRROR imagined a future based on the growing horrors of racism, violence, and capitalism rather than the growing horrors of technology. This collection of stories does what really excellent sci-fi does and explores the present through the future. And yet, I feel like I'm still underselling it. I haven't quite made it clear just how reading this book is kind of like probing at a raw wound with a knife. I had to put FRIDAY BLACK is hard to explain. The best I can do is say that it's like if BLACK MIRROR imagined a future based on the growing horrors of racism, violence, and capitalism rather than the growing horrors of technology. This collection of stories does what really excellent sci-fi does and explores the present through the future. And yet, I feel like I'm still underselling it. I haven't quite made it clear just how reading this book is kind of like probing at a raw wound with a knife. I had to put it down a few times just to give myself some space. Reading more than one story at a time is an impressive feat of mental strength. This author is one to watch.
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  • Paul Fulcher
    January 1, 1970
    Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was recently named in the US as one of the 2018 ‘5 Under 35’ Honorees by the National Book Foundation, an award for authors aged under 35, who have published their first and only book of fiction within the last five years, and 'whose debut titles provide a first look at their exceptional talent as fiction writers.’ He was nominated by Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2016 National Book Award for his The Underground Railroad. This book - Friday Black - a collection of shor Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was recently named in the US as one of the 2018 ‘5 Under 35’ Honorees by the National Book Foundation, an award for authors aged under 35, who have published their first and only book of fiction within the last five years, and 'whose debut titles provide a first look at their exceptional talent as fiction writers.’ He was nominated by Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2016 National Book Award for his The Underground Railroad. This book - Friday Black - a collection of short-stories, is the book that won him that honour, and it is certainly a striking debut, with a powerful and distinctive voice, covering both themes highly relevant to the Black Lives Matter campaign, and also on the ills of the US consumerist society. And the stories stray into the speculative fiction area, often based on real life but taking it to another extreme.One example is the story that opens the collection, The Finkelstein 5, perhaps my favourite of all. It begins:Fela, the headless girl, walked toward Emmanuel. Her neck jagged with red savagery. She was silent, but he could feel her waiting for him to do something, anything. Then his phone rang, and he woke up. He took a deep breath and set the Blackness in his voice down to a 1.5 on a 10-point scale....That morning, like every morning, the first decision he made regarded his Blackness. His skin was a deep, constant brown. In public, when people could actually see him, it was impossible to get his Blackness down to anywhere near a 1.5. If he wore a tie, wing-tipped shoes, smiled constantly, used his indoor voice , and kept his hands strapped and calm at his sides, he could get his Blackness as low as 4.0.The Finkelstein 5 are five young black kids that have been killed gruesomely by a white father. He claims to have been defending his children, except the only thing that caused a threat appears to have been the colour of their skin, and yet he successfully pleads self-defence in court. The story appears exaggerated but this is 2018 where an off-duty policewoman can shoot an unarmed black man in his own apartment, because she entered the wrong flat and thought it was hers, and then parts of the press can attempt to retro-justify this because there was a tiny amount of cannabis found on the premises, cannabis found when police got a search warrant seemingly for the purpose of retro-finding incriminating evidence. In the story Emmanuel attempts to find work in a mall, but when he is unable to do so - the shop has reached its 'quota' and doesn't want to appear too 'urban' by employing too many minority staff - gets caught up in a revenge moment.A story with a similar theme, but inventive twist, is Zimmer Land told by an African-American worker in a Westworld like theme park, except the aim of the park is for white citizens to act out their fantasies of defending their families.Another highlight - this time focusing on the consumerist theme is Friday Black, one of a number of stories set in a clothing store. Here the shopping frenzy that is today Black Friday is taken to a whole new level, with dead bodies littering the scene:Maybe eighty people rush through the gate, clawing and stampeding. Pushing racks and bodies aside . Have you ever seen people run from a fire or gunshots? It’s like that, with less fear and more hunger. From my cabin, I see a child, a girl maybe six years old, disappear as the wave of consumer fervor swallows her up. She is sprawled facedown with dirty shoe prints on her pink coat.And yet the sales person narrating the story is focused more on hitting his targets than saving lives.The collection is perhaps less successful when it gets more into dystopian speculative fiction - e.g. the stories Through the Flash or The Era. I am showing my prejudice here against the short-story form, but the stories such as these ones that attempted to build new worlds or set-ups fell a little between two stools - too long for a short-story but not developed enough for a novella: they felt more like sketches for a novel than complete works. And perhaps the other criticism would be that the author is better at arresting openings and creating an interesting set-up, but not quite so good at distinctive endings, which matters more in short-stories than in the longer form.Nevertheless a worthwhile collection and a highly promising debut: 3.5 starsThanks to the publisher for the ARC
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  • Anna |hayinas7
    January 1, 1970
    Finklestein 5, Zimmer Land, Light Spitter and Through the Flash are my absolute favorites. Great collection of short stories.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 rounded upAs is often the case with short stories, I found these to be an incredibly mixed bag. I thought the first story was brilliant - it felt really Black Mirror-esque - but unfortunately the rest were mostly forgettable for me, ending predictably and often falling flat. Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Books for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Andre
    January 1, 1970
    A first-rate story collection with a little bit of magical realism, weirdness, strangeness, wit, hard truths, racial injustice and a dash of retail shopping, which gives the book its title. Friday Black is what we know as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that ushers in the Christmas shopping season. In the story, Friday Black, a clothing store in the mall is gearing up for the shopping frenzy that can be deadly and in the past Friday Blacks it has been literally fatal. “Last year, the F A first-rate story collection with a little bit of magical realism, weirdness, strangeness, wit, hard truths, racial injustice and a dash of retail shopping, which gives the book its title. Friday Black is what we know as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that ushers in the Christmas shopping season. In the story, Friday Black, a clothing store in the mall is gearing up for the shopping frenzy that can be deadly and in the past Friday Blacks it has been literally fatal. “Last year, the Friday Black took 129 people. ‘Black Friday is a special case; we are still a hub of customer care and interpersonal cohesiveness,‘ mall management said in a mall-wide memo.”For those who partake in this annual rush to retail, this story is sure to stay with you long after you put down this collection, and may haunt your future quests for Black Friday bargains. Nana Kwame returns to the retail theme with the same characters in the story, How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King and In Retail. Both stories deal with retail at the point of sale and In Retail highlights the stress related to retail work and how one must avoid being Lucy or Lucyed. “Lucy was that girl who jumped from the fourth floor last month on her lunch break.”The Finkelstein Five is the first story in the book and kind of announces to the reader that something special is in store. A strong story that easily fits in today’s America with the focus on injustice and the resulting helplessness that may lead to extreme forms of retribution as displayed here in this tale. In Zimmer Land we experience a racial amusement park where patrons can live out their ‘I feared for my life’ fantasies for a small fee. These stories, for lack of a better word are highlights for me, but the other entries are also spotlight worthy and the entire story collection indicates with clarity Nana Kwame is inventive, creative, and talented and a voice that readers will look to hear from again and again. Thanks to Mariner Books and Edelweiss for an advanced DRC. Book drops on Oct. 23, 2018.
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    The best fiction shakes you up – this is the best fiction and I feel like a snow globe. I’m not sure any of us could ever be ready for something as electric and essential as FRIDAY BLACK and I’m so happy to have been rocked to my core. This collection of illuminating and mind-expanding stories has had me captivated. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I feel equally exhausted and exhilarated, spent and satiated. FRIDAY BLACK will set you on fire and all I can really say is The best fiction shakes you up – this is the best fiction and I feel like a snow globe. I’m not sure any of us could ever be ready for something as electric and essential as FRIDAY BLACK and I’m so happy to have been rocked to my core. This collection of illuminating and mind-expanding stories has had me captivated. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I feel equally exhausted and exhilarated, spent and satiated. FRIDAY BLACK will set you on fire and all I can really say is get ready to burn bright. Adjei-Brenyah has talent to spare and his potential is breathtaking – I’m already anticipating what comes next.
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    Review to follow (copy received via NetGalley and the publisher asked for reviews to be held until 3 weeks prior to publication).
  • Rosie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great debut and some truly original short stories that are so gooooood they set the bar on how amazing short stories can be.A little surreal, a splash of sci-fi and dystopia, anger mixed with sharp observations I was griped, and I want to read it again because each story was so detailed I want to make sure I got everything! I was especially gripped by Through The Flash that could have been it’s own book, actually most of them would make a great individual lengthier book!
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 best collection of short stories to come out since last years her body and other parties. Maybe got bored with one of the stories or two but other than that flawless
  • Uriel Perez
    January 1, 1970
    Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's 'Friday Black' is such a book that requires one a moment to catch their breath upon completion. These twelve stories are ferocious and reveal the underbelly of a nation still at odds with its own past, destined to be consumed by its present. And yet, there's a persistent glimmer of hope that runs through these visions of chaos and suffering, of ghosts seeking redemption, of the over-worked sales representative, of those caught in an system actively working against them Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's 'Friday Black' is such a book that requires one a moment to catch their breath upon completion. These twelve stories are ferocious and reveal the underbelly of a nation still at odds with its own past, destined to be consumed by its present. And yet, there's a persistent glimmer of hope that runs through these visions of chaos and suffering, of ghosts seeking redemption, of the over-worked sales representative, of those caught in an system actively working against them. Though this collection feels tailor-made for 2018, much of what Adjei-Brenyah writes has that quality of timelessness few writers can achieve.
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  • SissiReads
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my goodness, where do I even begin to write this review?First of all, I have never read a book like this before (to say the least!!!), it truly is eye opening and every time I think about it I feel goosebumps all over. The magnitude of what it tries to present in the book is beyond words, so before I go into a bit more details of the book, I just want to congratulate the author for such outstanding debut novel and for what he has achieved so far. It truly is amazing.Friday Black consists of 1 Oh my goodness, where do I even begin to write this review?First of all, I have never read a book like this before (to say the least!!!), it truly is eye opening and every time I think about it I feel goosebumps all over. The magnitude of what it tries to present in the book is beyond words, so before I go into a bit more details of the book, I just want to congratulate the author for such outstanding debut novel and for what he has achieved so far. It truly is amazing.Friday Black consists of 12 short stories. What I am most impressed about is all 12 short stories are completely different from each other. Contemporary, futuristic, dystopian and so on. Each story uses the form of fiction to tell a different social / culture / racial phenomenon or problem. I am seriously in awe of the author’s ability to write so many different genres in one book!These stories are shocking, dark, twisted, weird, strange, eye-opening, heavy, brutal and so very painful. It cuts deep to your soul. Some of the stories have such deep meaningful message that I have to reread it again to truly appreciate everything the author is trying to convey. Some of the stories make you so uncomfortable, you want to close the book and just leave it but you know you have to go on reading because you know similar things are really happening nowadays and you can’t just turn a blind eye towards it! Some of the stories are so very painful to read. But it is these pains that the author wants us to experience and understand.The first story is shockingly painful, the last story is mind-blowingly brutal, everything in between is cutting edge and powerful. This is a very unique book that I will remember for a very long time to come.
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  • Charlott
    January 1, 1970
    Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut collection Friday Black is something else! I read most of it during train rides this weekend and I could hardly put it down. Roxane Gay wrote about the book: " 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 it is a condemnation". In his highly inventive stories, Adjei-Brenyah takes our reality and tweaks it just a little bit, follows a thought a bit further, makes something common a Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's debut collection Friday Black is something else! I read most of it during train rides this weekend and I could hardly put it down. Roxane Gay wrote about the book: " 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 it is a condemnation". In his highly inventive stories, Adjei-Brenyah takes our reality and tweaks it just a little bit, follows a thought a bit further, makes something common a little bit more extreme and thus leaves us with often horrific narratives which are equally speculative fiction and poignant portrayals of our society. In "Zimmer Land" (white) people go to an escape room-esque amusement park to play-act shooting (BPoC) people, "The Era" portrays a society which is obsessed with optimizing people and 'telling the truth', and in the title story "Friday Black" Black Friday shopping knows no bounds. Adjei-Brenyah offers an astute critique of racism and capitalism while writing very entertaining stories which make you gasp more than once. The stories I loved in the collection I really loved and will refer to in future, there were a few stories which did not work that well for me, but overall a fantastic debut.
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  • Bianca Walters
    January 1, 1970
    The instinct is to call this gritty, because it surely isn't gentle, but that would be inaccurate. Friday Black is clear. Not the view from a dirty window through a rusty screen, but that first day with new glasses magnifying glass welded to your cornea kind of view.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    Hell yeah. A vibrant debut collection, in the vein of George Saunders and Black Mirror and so many other things yet so decidedly original that you really have to say "well, it's LIKE these other things BUT" when you try to describe it.A few of the stories are on the weaker side, but "The Finklestein 5" and "Zimmer Land" and "Light Spitter" and "Through the Flash" -- not to mention the three slightly-linked tales of retail (incl. the title story) -- are absolutely astounding. Adjei-Brenyah is the Hell yeah. A vibrant debut collection, in the vein of George Saunders and Black Mirror and so many other things yet so decidedly original that you really have to say "well, it's LIKE these other things BUT" when you try to describe it.A few of the stories are on the weaker side, but "The Finklestein 5" and "Zimmer Land" and "Light Spitter" and "Through the Flash" -- not to mention the three slightly-linked tales of retail (incl. the title story) -- are absolutely astounding. Adjei-Brenyah is the real deal and this collection is not to be missed.
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  • Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you HMH for the ARC. Simply stated this is the best book of the year thus far and merits consideration for major literary awards. The stories will make an excellent TV mini series and is excellent depiction of the all too real dystopia that is life in a woefully prejudiced dysfunctional American society. A brilliant must read
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  • Lindsay Cole
    January 1, 1970
    What a stunning debut collection. Important and strange and funny and heartbreaking and edgy and - WOW.
  • Beth (bibliobeth)
    January 1, 1970
    This review comes with a huge thank you to Quercus Books whom at a recent "Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening" kindly provided me with a copy of this book in a fun little "blind date," where the book was wrapped up in standard brown paper with a few teasing pieces of information on the front to suggest what might be inside. If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter you might have already seen what was there but for those of you who don't I'll just mention it here briefly because it was what was said This review comes with a huge thank you to Quercus Books whom at a recent "Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening" kindly provided me with a copy of this book in a fun little "blind date," where the book was wrapped up in standard brown paper with a few teasing pieces of information on the front to suggest what might be inside. If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter you might have already seen what was there but for those of you who don't I'll just mention it here briefly because it was what was said on the front that made me desperate to find out exactly what the package contained. Endorsed by both Roxane Gay and George Saunders (if this isn't accolade enough in itself?) it was described as being "a punchy short story collection examining racial injustice in modern America." Buzzfeed also called it "Black Mirror-esque." With these two exhilarating statements I knew I was in for something very unique and noteworthy and once I opened it and was faced with that stunning cover design and a synopsis that knocked my socks off I knew that I was a very lucky girl indeed and this collection was going to be nothing short of monumental.So, I had already suspected that I was in for a wild ride with this collection but even then, I still wasn't fully prepared for the journey it would take me on both emotionally and intellectually. I don't want to talk about any individual story too much and ruin the pleasure other readers are going to get from this astounding debut but it's honestly one of those books where after you read it, you feel a little changed as a person. The collection opens in the most gut-wrenching and shocking manner with a story called The Finkelstein 5 (possibly my favourite story of them all) and to give you an idea of the personal impact on me I'll give you a taster of the first few lines:"Fela, the headless girl, walked toward Emmanuel. Her neck jagged with red savagery. She was silent, but he could feel her waiting for him to do something, anything."You know when you start reading something and you get this instinct that what you're about to witness in the form of devouring these words is going to be incredible and unforgettable? That's what The Finkelstein 5 was for me and it was impossible to resist as soon as I had read that outrageous (but brilliant!) first paragraph. From this first story onwards, each of the other tales stands on their own individually and proudly as a true testament to the sheer strength and beauty of Adjei-Brenyah's writing style. Many stories verge on the dystopian and fantastical but frighteningly, many of them actually feel realistic. It's easy to imagine these horrific instances of racism, prejudice and brutality occurring if the technology mentioned in one particular story - "Zimmer Land" is used in a malicious way to justify abhorrent racist attitudes.I had a sneaky suspicion that I was going to adore Friday Black and I wasn't wrong. It's fairly rare that I feel inspired to tweet, especially after a short story but in this case, The Finkelstein 5 had such an enormous impact on me I immediately had to tell the whole world about it. It was so powerful in both its scope and intensity that I couldn't fail to be affected and was the perfect way to begin a staggeringly good collection. Yes, there's always the worry that the following stories won't live up to the brilliance of the first but I was delighted to discover that almost every single tale afterwards left some sort of footprint in my mind.I was completely prepared to be moved, haunted and dumbfounded but I wasn't expecting things to get so emotional and there was a particular story - "Lark Street" that absolutely destroyed me and left me a sobbing mess. I really can't say anymore but if any regular readers are aware of my personal struggles the past eighteen months or so, I'm sure you'll understand. Amidst this devastation however, I couldn't help but be in complete awe of this writer's talent, his ability with words, his imagination and creativity and the way in which he managed to make me feel so much, in very different ways with each of his stories. Thought-provoking and highly original, this is short story collection you really can't afford to miss!Published by riverrun publishers, an imprint of Quercus Books, Friday Black is out NOW.For my full review and many more, please visit my blog at http://www.bibliobeth.com
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  • Lizy
    January 1, 1970
    Ok, so, like the major of the books I received at SIBA this year, I have to preface this with a story. I met the author while I was dressed in like, Florida-tourist chic, with a maroon skeleton cardigan on, a neon green fanny pack, like 5 tote bags spilling off my shoulders, the works. Unbeknownst to me at the time, when I got my book signed Adjei-Brenyah didn't just put his name, he actually wrote out "amazing fanny pack, thanks for everything" and then signed it. I'm tickled by that. This is a Ok, so, like the major of the books I received at SIBA this year, I have to preface this with a story. I met the author while I was dressed in like, Florida-tourist chic, with a maroon skeleton cardigan on, a neon green fanny pack, like 5 tote bags spilling off my shoulders, the works. Unbeknownst to me at the time, when I got my book signed Adjei-Brenyah didn't just put his name, he actually wrote out "amazing fanny pack, thanks for everything" and then signed it. I'm tickled by that. This is an amazing author, yall.Anyway, enough about that. Y'all want to hear about this book and I am here to preach about it to the high heavens. This collection of short stories is like if Roxanne Gay and Kurt Vonnegut decided to rewrite Welcome to Monkey House. It cuts to the bone in terms of race, social issues, and capitalism, but it does it in this beautiful, surprisingly casual sci-fi-ish kind of way that makes it palatable. Stories over-exaggerate to make you think. The perspective changes. The truth comes out in every page. From a short story where people turn into stampeding animals on Black Friday to a story about an entire city stuck in a Groundhog Day on the last day of existence, from a story about black people performing hate crimes after being pushed too far to a story about a father waking up the day after his girlfriend got an abortion and finding two sentient fetuses on his bed, talking to him--it covers everything. It's edgy and provocative. It's an absolute masterpiece. Keep your eyes on this collection and on this writer, because they're going to go far.
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  • Charlotte Jones
    January 1, 1970
    *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I didn't know what to expect going into this but I've been enjoying short story collections and so wanted to pick up another one. From the first story I could tell that this was going to be out of my comfort zone. The level of violence is something that took me by surprise to the point where I had to skim read some pages because it was too much for me. On the other hand, some of these stories were really c *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I didn't know what to expect going into this but I've been enjoying short story collections and so wanted to pick up another one. From the first story I could tell that this was going to be out of my comfort zone. The level of violence is something that took me by surprise to the point where I had to skim read some pages because it was too much for me. On the other hand, some of these stories were really clever and will stay with me going forward.Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has a great imagination and has managed to talk about contemporary issues such as race relations, abortion, mental health, suicide, violence and many other themes, in a way that is visceral even in a magical realism setting.Overall I would recommend this book if you are open to reading about violent subjects. Unfortunately it's not something that I enjoy reading about so about half the stories just made me feel on edge, like I was cringing throughout. The other half were brilliant though.3 out of 5 stars!
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  • Shauna
    January 1, 1970
    This book covers a lot of issues in a short span of time. I especially loved the first and last story. The first, about what happens when a white man uses a chainsaw to behead five young black children and then says he was just defending himself, is satirical but also kind of sad in how not-really-satirical it is. The last is about a neighborhood stuck in a time loop where every day ends with the same bomb killing them all (I love time loops, and I loved the narrator of this story). The stories This book covers a lot of issues in a short span of time. I especially loved the first and last story. The first, about what happens when a white man uses a chainsaw to behead five young black children and then says he was just defending himself, is satirical but also kind of sad in how not-really-satirical it is. The last is about a neighborhood stuck in a time loop where every day ends with the same bomb killing them all (I love time loops, and I loved the narrator of this story). The stories in between were also inventive and interesting. Three stories were set in the same apparel shop in a mall, and three stories with the same setting, even if they touch upon different topics, is a little too much for me. But overall I really liked this. I'd have less trouble finishing books of short stories if they were all as unique as the stories in this one.
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  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    I know this is a review, but having read it I just want more than anything to talk-talk-talk about each and every short story in this collection. Some were exceptional, classically composed stories ("Lark Street" "The Finkelstein 5"), some were beautifully carved slices of life ("Friday Black" "How to Sell a Jacket by Iceking") and others still were bizarre, bold, and brazen, full of unrelenting brutality (though all of them could be categorized thus, I'd put special emphasis on "Light Emitter" I know this is a review, but having read it I just want more than anything to talk-talk-talk about each and every short story in this collection. Some were exceptional, classically composed stories ("Lark Street" "The Finkelstein 5"), some were beautifully carved slices of life ("Friday Black" "How to Sell a Jacket by Iceking") and others still were bizarre, bold, and brazen, full of unrelenting brutality (though all of them could be categorized thus, I'd put special emphasis on "Light Emitter" and "After the Flash"). My favorite story of the collection, The Lion and the Spider, fits into the first two categories quite nicely, telling the story of a boy working part-time at a home improvement story waiting for his dad to come back, all interwoven with a fable about Anansi the spider besting a lion who wants to eat some rabbits.I wouldn't call the stories grotesque, but they certainly are brutal. Similarly, there is a working-class fiction at the center of a lot of these stories. Some stories are situated directly in the retail environment--the service industry--while others are indirectly focused on people struggling with their day-to-day even if it's not the focus of the story, like in The Finkelstein 5 or Lark Street.I haven't even mentioned "Zimmerland" because its immense in its scope, and that brings me to something I felt less enthusiastic about. Some stories, Zimmerland specifically, felt huge to me, and that they were squashed perhaps into a short story. Maybe it was a novella, or maybe I'm not reading the right feelings out of it. The character does seem to have reached an end, but the story doesn't seem full, it feels half-empty, spoiled by itself. "The Era" feels similar, if only because it doesn't feel to me to have any movement, and I feel like it is one of the weaker stories in the collection.Ultimately, I have to return to my original assessment--these are beautiful stories that sometimes have weaker endings. Adjel-Brenyah has magical prose that, while comparable to people like Saunders or Moody, absolutely stands alone, lifted by a voice that is, in my opinion, more assertive, bold, and confrontational with the world. I am absolutely looking forward to any more work coming from him, whether they be essays, more short stories, or full novel-length projects.
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  • Melissa Dee
    January 1, 1970
    I was quite shaken when I finished reading several of the stories in this collection. The Finkelstein 5, The Lion & the Spider, and Light Spitter are stories that will linger in my mind, and that I will return to again to try to understand their origin in the writer’s mind and life, and their intersection with my experience.I was less taken with the stories set in the Prominent Mall. I don’t think the quality is uneven; I think I was less emotionally hooked by them.It is very exciting to kno I was quite shaken when I finished reading several of the stories in this collection. The Finkelstein 5, The Lion & the Spider, and Light Spitter are stories that will linger in my mind, and that I will return to again to try to understand their origin in the writer’s mind and life, and their intersection with my experience.I was less taken with the stories set in the Prominent Mall. I don’t think the quality is uneven; I think I was less emotionally hooked by them.It is very exciting to know that this is a debut collection, and that we have so much more to look forward to from Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.
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  • Rosie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great debut and some truly original short stories that are so gooooood they set the bar on how amazing short stories can be.A little serial, a splash of sci-fi and dystopia, anger mixed with sharp observations I was griped, and I want to read it again because each story was so detailed I want to make sure I got everything! I was especially gripped by Through The Flash that could have been it’s own book, actually most of them would make a great individual lengthier book!
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  • Demi
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This was almost too much for me—discomfort was a regular feeling while reading these incredible short stories. But I would wholly recommend this collection to anyone. I hope this is the future of literary fiction continuing to come to fruition on the page.
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  • Monika
    January 1, 1970
    The stories in Friday Black are incredibly thought provoking, political, violent, and completely unforgettable. If you’re a fan of Colson Whitehead, George Saunders, or Marlon James, this is the read for you. Special thanks to NetGalley for the ARC! This title comes out on October 23rd.
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