Book Review Time: Friday Black

Hello, my fellow bibliophiles. You may have noticed I took a brief hiatus. No need for concern. Reading is ingrained in me. I read every day. Yet for whatever reason, the writing wasn’t coming along as easily. I’m still trying to uncover the “why” behind that. Maybe the exhaustion and frustration of 2020 finally caught up to me in the form of writer’s block. But today is a new day. And I’m ready to discuss books. So, shall we?

Friday Black, by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, is an abrasive and thought-provoking collection of stories addressing race, class, cultural divides, and consumerism. Adjei-Brenyah creates a near-future western society where the most dangerous and incendiary elements not only have managed to persist, they have also strengthened. Black people’s increased reliance on code switching in order to survive day-to-day life. A criminal justice system so inequitable as to be devoid of true justice. Material consumption that eats away at our very humanity. The ongoing cycle of never-ending wars. The enormous toll it takes on younger generations. In 2021, the world is a powder-keg. We’ve borne witness to many of the devastating effects already: social unrest, a pandemic, the spread of disinformation, warfare, climate change. Despite being major occurences, these are the precursors (the igniting flame) of something greater; something potentially cataclysmic. Friday Black presents the world after the powder-keg has blown. It’s real and heart-breaking. Ugly and stomach-churning. Friday Black takes its name from the biggest consumer event of the holiday season. And just as the title is a reflective inversion of the term Black Friday, Friday Black holds a penetrating mirror up to society. The reflection has needle-sharp edges with acidic overtones. Adjei-Brenyah is showing us where we’re headed. The outlook is bleak. Luckily for us, there’s still time to change course. To tread a different path, a nobler one. One immersed in goodwill toward our fellow-man/woman with an abiding respect for the planet that sustains us. Like the young girl, Ama, in the final story of the book, Through the Flash, who in recognizing her dangerously violent descent, actively chooses to do better, to be better: “The old me did everything one way. And only thought about one person.” And here, Adjei-Brenyah presents the tiniest flicker of hope. One girl willing to change. So the question becomes, how do we extrapolate this and give it meaning in the real world? The issues we face are many, and with each passing day, they worsen. But how do we move forward when so many are reluctant to admit that there’s even a problem?


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