I was partway through the first story in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection Friday Black when I dropped the book onto my lap and in a whispered breath said aloud to an empty room: “Bloody hell.”
Actually, that’s not quite true. I was a little more profane. But the room was empty. And in its silence, I knew: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah — clearly a writer of prodigious,arresting talent, having sampled just a couple thousand words of his work — is an author we’re going to hold in the highest of esteem for a long, long time to come.
The stories contained inside the beautifully packaged Friday Black are at times painful, funny, shocking and crushing; always whip smart, and never anything less than thought-provoking. It’s a volcano of a book that discloses hard, painful, and necessary truths, ruthlessly and lyrically deriding America’s racism, its legal system, gun culture and healthcare. Adjei-Brenyah manipulates and mutates the reality of modern day, divided America to fit the ingenious scenarios he conjures, but a consistent layer of truth, no matter the ‘unreality’ of some stories, grounds each tale so that each lands like a gut punch.
A cutting and resonant debut — not to be missed.