Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction and Kirkus Prize Finalist

Calling to mind the best works of Paul Beatty and Junot Díaz, this collection of moving, timely, and darkly funny stories examines the concept of black identity in this so-called post-racial era.

A stunning new talent in literary fiction, Nafissa Thompson-Spires grapples with black identity and the contemporary middle class in these compelling, boundary-pushing vignettes.

Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous—from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids’ backpacks, to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide—while others are devastatingly poignant—a new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper middle class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.

Thompson-Spires fearlessly shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body. Boldly resisting categorization and easy answers, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an original and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
April 10, 2018  |  224 pages
(Read from Jan 19, 2019 to Jan 21, 2019)
Grade: B    (switch to numeric scale)
L/E Ratio: 80% Literature, 20% Entertainment
Tags:
Writing Quality:
Low High
Originality:
Low High

Addictiveness:
Low High
Movie Potential:
Low High

Re-readability:
Low High
Sequel Potential:
Low High
Comment:
Thompson-Spires builds a breathing world in this collection, one defined by Americanness good and bad. By blending the characters across multiple stories, she maintains a consistent voice without being tied to the requisite plotting of a novel. The titular piece, however, is too heavy in its meta exploration and the cultural comment suffers in response. The humor and insight of Thompson-Spires comes through best when she is fully embodying her character’s thoughts no matter how dark they get.  (+1 vote)