STARRED REVIEW
November 2018

Friday Black

By Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

With Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah draws a connective thread through a collection of bleak and absurd short stories set in a satirical reality based on a socially and economically collapsing America.

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With Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah draws a connective thread through a collection of bleak and absurd short stories set in a satirical reality based on a socially and economically collapsing America.

The book leads with a parody of the present day, in which a chainsaw-wielding mass killer is exonerated for his racially motivated hate crime by a defense attorney who swoons a jury with invectives of “freedom.” Meanwhile, teenager Emmanuel troubles over his representative blackness on a 10-point scale as he takes part in the race riots immediately following the killer’s acquittal. Adjei-Brenyah deftly interweaves these two narratives to draw a parallel between the story’s stark reality and our own, illuminating the state of emergency that is blackness in present-day America.

After the opening story, Adjei- Brenyah pivots to a dystopian future in which the government has poisoned its own water supply. In this future, “emotional truth-clouding” is looked down on in favor of intelligence, pride and truthfulness.

The tales that follow are set along the timeline that stretches between these first two stories, from the near-future capitalist decline to the ensuing societal meltdown, offering up a bleak trajectory for humanity in which pride and profit slowly usurp care. The title story sees the narrator fighting off a zombified consumerist horde in the early hours of Black Friday. Trampling deaths and bite wounds are as normalized as the narrator’s disregard for the little remaining humanity of those infected with the “Friday Black.”

Each of Adjei-Brenya’s characters deals with the numbness that comes after the shock of death wears off—and the pain that arises when that shock doesn’t fade. This is a difficult read and a twisting meditation on a world where love’s gone missing.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday Black

Friday Black

By Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Mariner
ISBN 9781328911247

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