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Friday Black
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November 2018: Literary Fiction > Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah / 4 stars

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Meli (melihooker) | 3250 comments I am usually averse to short story collections. I prefer to stay with a group of characters and follow them to a conclusive, or sometimes even vague, end. Short stories offer a limited number of pages to get close to characters or familiarize yourself with a world and its rules. If, like me, you follow modern lit and popular new releases you have heard of Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. The hype has been overwhelming, so I had to read this debut collection dealing with racial issues, deadly commercialism and greed, and abortion to name a few.

Adjei-Brenyah has a fresh voice and welcomed perspective on the current state of affairs in the US, using a sci-fi inspired backdrop to highlight real world issues like those previously mentioned. Think Black Mirror, but for literature.

Stories like “The Finkelstein 5” and “Zimmer Land” standout as timely criticisms of a justice system that turns a blind eye to murder of (especially) young people of color and the white men who commit these murders under the guise of “problem-solving, judgment and justice.”

His titular story “Friday Black,” “How to Sell a Jacket as Told by IceKing,” and “In Retail” are horror-inspired stories of consumerism at its worst. Seemingly existing in the same universe, these 3 stories could be considered redundant, but still each enjoyable on their own.

Friday Black also includes the parable “The Lion & the Spider,” a warning against underestimating your competition, and a couple dystopian tales with “The Era” and “Through the Flash.”

Overall, this is a diverse collection showing off Adjei-Brenyah's skill in genre fiction and social commentary that is jarring.

Calling this a strong debut is an understatement, but as with most short story collections it is not completely cohesive in theme and there are a couple stories that are underwhelming. Even so, Friday Black remains an entrancing, disturbing, dystopian experience and Adjei-Brenyah's talent is undeniable.

Significant in its timeliness, I recommend reading it now while it still has an eerie resemblance to our current cultural climate. Hopefully future readers will see the social commentary pieces, especially those dealing with race, as reflections of a bygone era, but for now and the foreseeable future we are not quite there.

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I haven't read short stories in such a long time. I really don't know why. I haven't really run across any. I need to check this out. Good review.

Meli (melihooker) | 3250 comments This and Her Body and Other Parties are the only short story collections I have bought in years.

message 4: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Cunningham | 714 comments Great review. This review combined with my renewed affection for the short story makes this an easy one to add to the list.

Meli (melihooker) | 3250 comments I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I would love to see him write a novel next.
Very strong sci-fi writing chops.

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