Friday Black

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black
Quercus Publishing
United Kingdom
25 June 2019

Friday Black

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Winner of the 2019 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

Friday Black tackles urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explores the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In the first, unforgettable story of this collection, The Finkelstein Five, Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unstinting reckoning of the brutal prejudice of the US 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.

Fresh, exciting, vital and contemporary, Friday Black will appeal to people who love Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, the TV show Black Mirror, the work of Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders, and anyone looking for stories that speak to the world we live in now.


We live in an era where we get told to accept who we are and show it – but is that really true for people of colour? We ask them to whitewash themselves to appear successful and to fit in. They have to learn how to make themselves appear ‘less threatening’ to keep themselves safe; they have to ‘turn down their Blackness’.

Friday Black is Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s fiction debut. The brutal honesty with which he writes shows how it is to be young and black in America. The twelve short stories are intense and include situations as varied as entertainment simulations where violence is seen as justice, a stampede of Black Friday zombie shoppers who scrape the dead under the shelves, and the joy that comes with successfully communicating in a half-learned language. Adjei-Brenyah illustrates the range of human complexities that come with a world that prizes pharmacological happiness but scorns emotions and human connection, being trapped in a time loop without consequences, and a shared purgatory between a college shooter and victim who work to prevent more violence.

Adjei-Brenyah has an explosive voice and has created authentic worlds that make you feel like you’ve travelled far in a small range of pages. He really captures the toll of consumerism, the idea of racism as sport, the corrupt criminal justice system, and cultural unrest. The stories are set out in an order that will chill you to the core with their unyielding realism, then fill you with fire against the injustice of racism, and end with the hope of redemption for humankind.

Cindy Morris works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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