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Friday Black

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,429 ratings  ·  571 reviews
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.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Mariner Books
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Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Elyse Walters
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having recently read “The Heads of The Colored People”, a terrific debut collection of 12 short stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires — I reached for another debut collection of 12 more short stories.

First - I have Goodreads member Meike to thank. It was her review that inspired me. Thank you Meike.

I had no idea what to expect. I still can’t entirely figure out the book cover’s drawing. I have some ideas - but I’m a little curious if there is a specific meaning behind it.

I’ll dive r
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, 2018-read
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
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah proves he is a star by beginning a literary career with this charged story collection.

The commentary on capitalism & consumerism alone is worth your time. Whether it's the subtle commentary through trademark symbols on select items the characters from several stories use, most notably the drugs from "The Era," or the larger things such as mall patrons literally killing each other to get the best Black Friday sales in the eponymous "Friday Black."

I saw a little of my
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Jessica Woodbury
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 ...more
Samantha Irby
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Matthew Quann
Just missed sneaking this one under the wire for my last read of 2018, but it also happens to be a fine way to start the new year. These stories are (mostly) dystopian sci-fi, but think more George Saunders than Margaret Atwood. Like Saunders, Adjei-Brenyah has a dark sense of humour and a clever way of looking at the problems facing the modern American. The stories feature some pretty gruesome and shocking violence, but the book never relishes in the bloodshed and it always packs a punch. Frida ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.75. Adjei-Brenyah admirably carries off some seriously outlandish stuff (and even when a story doesn't work (aborted foetuses) you have to admire his bravery) and is clearly a major talent.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a stylish, assured, often devastating collection of short stories. The first story sets the tone and is laugh-out-loud funny and gut-punching and horrifying, all at once. They are set in an alternate contemporary US, more or less, and they focus on race, class, suburbia, and early (not young) adulthood and how its experienced today. The portrayal of race and what it is like to live as a black person (especially a black man) can be brutal, but it's also matter-of-fact, and the difficultie ...more
Paul Fulcher
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
Most of these stories are Science Fiction, two words which are repulsive to folks who read “propuh lit-trah-churrr”, but we don’t get anywhere by denying facts. When you have stories that feature strength-enhancing exoskeletons and self-driving cars (“Zimmer Land”), or reimagine Black Friday shoppers as consumer-crazed zombies who will kill to get a bargain (“Friday Black”) or imagine a world where political correctness doesn’t exist, causing everyone to be honest to the point of cruelty (“The E ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Adjei-Brenyah’s dystopian, satirical short stories are so inventive, that one may miss the ‘bite’ as they relate to our American society. There is violence in ‘The Finkelstein 5’ whereby George Wilson Dunn decapitates five children with his chainsaw because he felt threatened. The resulting trial is a farce. The author chooses to tell this story through Emmanuel John who grades himself on a ‘blackness rating’ system. Dressing in a suit and tie rates a lower rating than if he wears a hoodie. The ...more
“If I had words left in me, I would not be here.”

When I started reading this book I could see what the hype was about. This debut collection of short stories is cutting, sharp, refreshing, bizarre and is here to tackle racial issues, capitalism and other topics I am here for authors taking pen to paper for. While I did enjoy a lot of the stories, others veered too far left for me and I was like puzzled. Overall, this book read like a series of Black Mirror and I would love to see these storie
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This was a fun, satirical short story collection about some serious topics. One of the NBA 5 under 35 selections this year.
Anna | never_withouta_book
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finklestein 5, Zimmer Land, Light Spitter and Through the Flash are my absolute favorites. Great collection of short stories.
From what I’d read about this book, I thought I’d love it. But I ended up not getting very much out of the stories. Ten of the 12 are told in the first person, and in most cases you get the point after one or two pages and the remaining pages are like a puddle of treacle to crawl through. I think I would have enjoyed coming across one of Adjei-Brenyah’s stories in an anthology – the opener, “The Finkelstein 5,” was probably my favorite and is a good example of how he takes the comedy/horror thin ...more
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 rounded up

As 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.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book, a kind of speculative fiction about a decaying America, in terms of race, yes, but also families, consumerism, war, etc. was fun. I’m going to date myself as a one hundred and twenty year old here, but when I was a kid, I used to listen to very old reruns of 1950’s radio shows late at night with all of the insomniac seniors and X Minus One was a sci-fi one that had the same tone and pace as these stories for me, which made me almost nostalgic. I think some of the storylines were truly ...more
I'm a little unsure how to rate this, especially as I didn't actually read the last two stories since I had to return it to the library. I was completely blown away by the first story, which I thought was totally incredible. But then none of the other stories really caught my interest. I liked how his concepts were a kind of satire that depicted a world just this side of plausible with themes of anti-black racism and capitalist excess. The stars are really for the first story which I think is on ...more
Kevin Shepherd
"...a jury of his peers had acquitted George Wilson Dunn of any wrongdoing whatsoever. He had been indicted for allegedly using a chain saw to hack off the heads of five black children outside the Finklestein Library in Valley Ridge, South Carolina. The court had ruled that because the children were basically loitering and not actually inside the library reading, as one might expect of productive members of society, it was reasonable that Dunn had felt threatened by these five black young people ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Paul Lockman
3.5 stars.
A strong debut novel but a real mix of stories for me – some brilliant, very original and creative, others not so much. I feel confident in saying he is an author to watch and I will certainly be looking out for his next publication.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 These are some powerful stories. I deduct .5 stars for the simple fact that people who most need to read these either won't or won't understand them....some of the stories are very subtle and left me saying WTF?
I've been trying to read for the TOB and this didn't make the cut likely because of publication date so I cut to the chase and read the title story first....bad decision. It was good but not especially revelatory. A friend was raving about this collection and my library due date was l
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, on-shelf
I purchased Friday Black as a Christmas gift for my partner. He enjoyed the first story so much that I had to 'give it a go'. Long story short (*self high-five*), he gifted me my own copy in order to continue with his own.

Traditionally, I tend to avoid short stories as I get frustrated that often the stories are too short to be satisfying. But that was certainly not the case with Adjei-Brenyah's first fiction collection. Every story was unique, thoughtful and explosive. He deals with concepts li
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: story-collection
Excellent story collection. Dark, edgy and inventive. A great new voice. 4.5 stars
Effective short fiction.

The opening speculates on what happens in the US after a jury (view spoiler). It's basically brilliant.

Most of the stories have a speculative component--dystopic, post-apocalyptic, ghosts, pagan cultism, or perhaps the slight sci-fi made famous by Black Mirror--such
Rod-Kelly Hines
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
With all of the high praise this collection has received, I was very excited to read it. Overall, I enjoyed it even though I wasn't expecting speculative fiction, a genre that often leaves me cold and unsatisfied. The standouts in the collection are The Finkelstein 5, Zimmer Land, How to Sell a Jacket as Told by IceKing, and Friday Black, which is an utterly brilliant story and deservedly gives the book it's title. The rest had no effect on me whatsoever beyond being cleverly written.
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Play Book Tag: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah / 4 stars 5 24 Nov 30, 2018 04:55PM  
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is from Spring Valley, New York. He graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University.

He was the '16-'17 Olive B. O'Connor fellow in fiction at Colgate University.

His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including Guernica, Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing, Printer’s Row, Gravel, and The Breakwater Review,
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“even though I’m being true, they’d say I was being emotional and it was clouding my truth.” 1 likes
“Emmanuel started learning the basics of his Blackness before he knew how to do long division: smiling when angry, whispering when he wanted to yell.” 0 likes
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