Friday Black

6 CDs. Recorded Bks. Nov. 2018. 7 hrs.ISBN 9781980002635. $72.75. digital download. F/SHORT STORIES
OrangeReviewStarWhen asked in a New York Times Book Review interview why he writes political stories, Adjei-Brenyah answered, "If the house is on fire, I'm not going to write about what's in the fridge." In his smart, darkly funny debut collection of short stories, society itself seems on fire with racism, mob mentality, rampant consumerism, and the glorification of violence. Adjei-Brenyah sets the unflinching tone for the collection with the first story, "The Finkelstein 5," in which groups of vigilantes dole out their version of justice after a chainsaw-wielding white man is acquitted of murdering five black children outside a public library. In "Zimmer Land," a client can pay for the opportunity to commit a hate crime in a scenario disturbingly close to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. In "Friday Black" and "How To Sell a Jacket as Told by IceKing," consumerism has become blood sport, and casualties are literally swept out of the way so the bargain hunting can continue unabated. The casual, conversational tone used by narrators Corey Allen and Carra Patterson adds to the horror—the stories feel only slightly hyperbolic, even as they are completely unnerving.
VERDICT Brilliant and tragic, this is essential for all fiction collections. ["Powerful work for a wide range of readers": LJ 8/18 review of the Houghton Harcourt hc.]
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