Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah | 2018 | 208 pp
Ah, whoa. Sometimes a story, though fictional, is so deep, I have to pause after reading it to respect my feelings and explore my thoughts about it. This is one of those books.
Friday Black is a collection of short stories, staged in a dystopian world not very different than ours, except for its violence and insensitivity to race and culture. Sounds small but its definitely not!
The Finkelstein 5 is a story about the aftermath of a brutal killing of 5 black children outside of a library by a white man with a chainsaw. 😳 Our protagonist is invited to join a group of folks wanting to avenge the children. In this story, the author articulates the practice of dialing down blackness. Meaning, riding the bus, wearing a hoody, blasting music, your blackness may be on 10, while wearing a suit into an interview, you may be on a 4.5. Interesting concept.
Zimmer Land is a theme park where racism becomes a sport. People pay to be placed in situations where they are allowed to live their ‘dream’. For example, ‘protecting’ their family from a random black person walking along the street. The story is told from the perspective of the theme park employee. He tells us how he tries to avoid the violence by raising his hands saying he isn’t doing anything. Inevitably, he is shot and the shooter is not held accountable.
Friday Black and How To Sell A Jacket is more about frantic consumerism as told from the perspective of a young employee.
Pros: All good. Very interesting perspectives and I can inly imagine why this isn’t getting the shine it deserves. The author has taken what is held private: our deep feelings of vengeance when a young black child is ruthlessly murdered in the name of protecting white bodies or property, and our kitchen table talk about appearing less ‘black’..and turned those into satirical stories filled with violence and pain.
Cons: None. The Finkelstein 5 was the hardest to read but i gritted my teeth and bared it. The story goes deep into courtroom testimony of how, even though the black children were minding there own business and walking away from the man, he felt he needed to protect the life snd liberties of his young white children- by chasing and attacking the black children with a chainsaw. Extremely triggering, though i think it needs to be to understand the acts of vengeance that follow.
Not an easy book to read or review, especially in this short format. I feel nearly compelled to pull out sociology and psychology books to deep-dive imagery and make historical and social comparisons to real world issues. Instead, i’ll keep it semi-light but deeply encourage you to read and think about Friday Black. Excellent book 16/2021.