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Friday Black

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  13,399 ratings  ·  2,431 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, 194 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Mariner Books
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Ginger Switzer The first and last stories are both related to Black Friday. The stories are a unique and interesting take on the annual event. I thought the book was…moreThe first and last stories are both related to Black Friday. The stories are a unique and interesting take on the annual event. I thought the book was great.(less)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  13,399 ratings  ·  2,431 reviews

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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
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: 2018-read, usa
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, cons
Every inch of my black skin painted the maroon of life.

If I had to write a book on morality,’ author and existentialist Albert Camus once wrote in his notebooks, ‘it would have a hundred pages and ninety-nine would be blank. On the last page I should write ‘I recognize only one duty, and that is to love.’ It seems so simple: to love and to be loved, and one can look to the beauty and love in the world and feel hope but yet far too often we look about and see the absence of love creeping its w
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
You are supreme and infinite.

Humanity has been quite strange, right from the outbreak of civilization. It is so full of darkness that if time takes reverse turn and our forefathers look at us, they would be taken aback by its sheer degeneracy; humanity has become so inhumane in itself that they would evolve back into ‘lower beings’ from horror so that earth or rather universe might be saved. The most civilized beings, who are ironically us, who think that we are supreme and infinite, who are so
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 old
Richard Derus
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: borrowed, returned
MAY 2021 UPDATE This amazing collection is now $2.99 on Kindle!

Real Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 ordin
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
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 extreme
I liked this excellent and powerful collection of stories about being young and Black (presumably) in America. This had a muddled timeframe and a very dystopian feel. I place most of these stories in the very near future. A couple of the stories had fantastical and/or scifi elements, but most were social commentary. Adjeh-Brenyah's imagination is large and he is doing something very interesting: he is extrapolating to extreme interpretations of our current society (American) from the perspective ...more
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
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-writers
Holy fuck! Everyone who loves Black Mirror will certainly find some stories to absolutely geek out and gush over in this collection. Friday Black is a brilliant and fresh piece of work, that encompasses 12 thought-provoking short stories. Whilst I found some of them to be subpar (and my average rating of these stories is 3.41), I couldn’t help but be incredibly impressed by this debut collection.

A third of these stories got a 5 star rating from me, that is almost unheard of when it comes to me
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: blm, short-stories, 2019
Like most short story collections, Friday Black has its highs and its lows, and on the whole I’d say it lands somewhere in the middle. But that’s not to dismiss Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s skill at dark, grotesque speculative fiction, which is on full display in a number of these stories, from the harrowing opener The Finkelstein 5 (a man brutally murders 5 black children with a chainsaw and claims self-defense) to the devastating Zimmer Land (a Westworld-style themepark where participants play o ...more
I forget where I first heard of Adjei-Brenyah, but the name of his debut story collection was so similar to Esi Edugyan’s much-lauded Washington Black that I wanted to read both to make sure they were separated in my mind. Now it is difficult to imagine I would ever forget the title story “Friday Black,” about a young man in a retail store setting dealing with the sales and buying mania of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the official opening of the Christmas season. There is indeed ...more
Read By RodKelly
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
[4+] These stories straddle the boundary between dystopian and realistic and are terrifying because of the truths they lay bare. Several of Adjei-Brenyah's stories are narrated by retail workers in big box stores who find ways to take pride in their jobs. They are placed in violent situations but try their best to survive and take care of their families in spite of the racism and cruelty they face. A totally original collection that I won't soon forget. ...more
Matt 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
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
Never Without a 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.
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
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
My favorite stories were Finklestein 5, Lark Street, Zimmer Land, Friday Black, Light Spitter and Through the Flash. These were the more unique and thought provoking stories that explored some very tough topics. I didn't expect the stories to be so graphic and dark. I think that's why I gravitated towards them!

The other stories were still very well written. I believe there was only 1 story that I didn't enjoy and one that I just literally didn't understand (Things My Mother Said-- I'm still tryi
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. ...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
"...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
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s literary debut with Friday Black doesn’t simply make a splash: this collection of twelve short stories is a whole tsunami. More, as the mass psychic refrain goes in futuristic and loopy “Through the Flash,” its waves are supreme, infinite. Hopes for narrative reprieves, and subsequent mental/spiritual reassembly, are thus futile, such is Adjei-Brenyah’s relentlessness in his, what, social commentary? That sounds too tame for what he actually does: exposing society’s de ...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
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shocking, gruesome violence and hot button societal issues are sure to garner attention. 🙄 I can appreciate how difficult it is to write a short story collection, but I DO NOT appreciate, nor respect, a fictionalized school shooting for entertainment value. Not in a short story. NOT EVER. And certainly not in this manner. Further, the anti-abortion story made me want to barf, not because it was effective, but because it was so poorly executed. It was by far the worst story in this mediocre-at-be ...more
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Play Book Tag: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah - 4 stars 1 10 Mar 11, 2021 03:50PM  
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Play Book Tag: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah / 4 stars 5 31 Nov 30, 2018 06:55AM  

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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,

Articles featuring this book

When it comes to writing, Jocelyn Johnson is about that life.    The Virginia native—born, bred, and wed—has had aspirations of being a...
35 likes · 2 comments
“People say “sell your soul” like it’s easy. But your soul is yours and it’s not for sale. Even if you try, it’ll still be there, waiting for you to remember it.” 8 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.” 7 likes
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