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Friday Black

Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (90 ratings)

Regular price: $20.99

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Publisher's Summary

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, and 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 listeners with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

©2018 Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (P)2018 Recorded Books

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More than violent

I had read that this book if short stories contained a lot of violence, and I tolerate violence well. But these stories for the most part took on a futuristic and absurd lens so that people were eviscerated and their lives seemed meaningless. The first 2/3 were manageable, not so the last.
I hope I don't sound ignorant as a white reader-i have read reviews where these haunted stories evoke a black experience that is surreal in its gruesomeness-and I can recognize this quality in many of the stories, however, for me, it rendered life as too horrific to even imagine. Perhaps that's the point.

59 of 69 people found this review helpful

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An Authentic Magical Realist Masterpiece

Adjei-Brenyah is a brilliant story teller whose prose is as intrepidly creative as it is utterly unpretentious. The stories in this collection present us with characters who inhabit profoundly real dystopian worlds. These are worlds where the oppressed lose all fear in their quest for a justice indistinguishable from vengeance; where aborted fetuses speak to their grieving parents; where murderous anti-black vigilantism becomes a booming theme park industry paying enterprising people of color better than other jobs; where retail becomes the new plantation; and where human beings become radioactive projections of their former selves as they simply and rawly exist in the bittersweet hell of an endless apocalyptic loop.

By taking us into these varied yet closely related and even overlapping worlds of his fertile imagination, Adjei-Brenyah invites us not only to be seriously entertained, as we experience any number of wide-ranging and conflicting emotions. He also invites us to think deeply about the kind of world we inhabit and whether, when viewed in the mirrors of these worlds and their heroes and heroines, we like what we see.

20 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 05-19-19

One Sparkling Story in Over-the-top Collection

In general, I like over-the-top. And, on principle, I like ethical fiction, literature that tries to amplify the wrongs of a culture so we can see our way to end them.

Friday Black is both over-the-top and ethical. It’s just, well, perhaps a little too over-the-top.

Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah has a method here, and it works well in small doses. Basically, he takes a metaphor and reifies it.

These are not small does, however. They are every story, and the volume in each is turned up close to 11.

If you’re a retail worker at a mall on Black Friday, and the customers seem out of control, imagine them as a zombie horde intent on buying whatever items the marketers have set out for them. If you’re a man lamenting his role in urging his partner to get an abortion, imagine him walking around with the residue of his two fetuses (who talk to him).

The great exception here, or more appropriately the story that does this best, is the widely acknowledged “Finkelstein Five.” That one is both the most ambitious – it imagines an America proud of itself for the Trayvon Martin shooting – and the most impressively accomplished. We get a young man protagonist who, angered by an analogous shooting of five unarmed African-American youths, gradually allows himself to be radicalized.

The anger seethes in this story, and it seems to give license to the stylistic hyperbole. (I suppose it’s the lack of such immediate anger that causes me to lose patience with some of the other stories.) This feels like a legitimate echo of Richard Wright, Black anger unleashed on the page. (I’m not saying this is at the level of Wright, but I do think it’s a worthy heir to that literary tradition.)

The story may have some flaws – it is, still, blunt, and it ends abruptly – but it has real power as well. Enough power, I’d say, that I’d consider teaching it in a college class some day.

The rest of the collection, though, while it has intriguing stylistic moments and at times channels a compelling anger in other directions, seems largely adolescent to me. Over-the-top has its place, but so does subtlety, and I could use a bit more of that here.

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Necessary and Enthralling

Should be required reading. So full of depth and relevancy I wish I'd saved it for a bookclub - I’m dying to discuss even one (your choice!) of the stories from this collection. I am shaken and brain tingly in the most horrifyingly fascinating/satisfying ways possible. Carmen Maria Machado + George Saunders + Black Mirror vibes. Adjei -Brenyah is a finely honed mind that seems to effortlessly shape intricate speculative dimensions of our society while prompting one “too true” dark humor chuckle after another. This author is a master. I am inspired to live life more courageously because of this book.

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This is America

This was a dark almost satirical view of America and its broken pieces. My favorite is the Finklestein Five and Black Friday.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic read

I loved listening to this collection of stories. The writing is superb and the narration is on point. Completely Blacktastic!

5 of 11 people found this review helpful