Van has finished reading… Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

7 Jan

friday black

It may be a famous quote, I can’t remember, but didn’t someone once say that when you’re black everything you write is about being black, even when it’s not? If it’s not a famous quote, well, I’ve said it. A white boy in a white man’s world, talking about blackness.

Because that’s never happened before…

With Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black you get the real deal. From the overt statements that are The Finkelstein 5 and Zimmer Land to the subtler tones of How To Sell A Jacket As Told By Ice King. There’s an edgy humour in these slices of life but you cannot doubt that you’re being looked in the eye as you laugh, particularly with The Finkelstein 5. The absurdist nature of the comedy element – the defence presented at the trial of a truly heinous crime – quickly pales as the author’s punches hit home: but this is life; this kind of thing has happened; this kind of thing is not the past.

The day after I’d read The Finkelstein 5 I heard a polite ‘excuse me’ while walking in the park. Two teenagers came past on their bikes, both saying ‘thank you’ as they went. Not thanks, or cheers, or ta! or any other informal recognition you might’ve expected from a couple of teenagers out on their bikes. And I genuinely wondered, is that you or are you dialling down for the white people? I hope to God they weren’t, then I also hope to God I’m not one of those people who becomes a caricature around black teenagers, trying to be all matey and street. Yes, Mr Adjei-Brenyah’s definitely right about that. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

The range covered by the stories collected in Friday Black might at first glance make them seem somewhat disparate but there are threads not so much pulling them together as holding them in close company. The sense of the outsider is there time and again, the desire to belong. Then there’s that febrile striving for justice, not only for wanting to do the right thing but also for others to recognise their errors and see the true path. Whichever way you slice it Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black gives you twelve wonderfully immersive and deeply thought-provoking stories to enjoy. It’s well worth adding to your TBR pile.

 

Friday Black was published by riverrun on the 23rd October 2018 ISBN:9781787476011

You can find Nana Kwame on Twitter @NK_Adjei

My especial thanks to Ana McLaughlin at riverrun for allowing me to review this collection.

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