I read this book because I saw a recommendation from a favorite author of mine, George Saunders. This is Adjei-Brenyah’s first book. His dedication is: “For my mom, who said, ‘How can you be bored? How many books have you written?'”
These stories take on some of the big issues: violence in our society based on otherness, genetic engineering and pharmacology, abortion/right to life, consumerism, marketing, capitalism. He pushes to the max to hit us hard, but the stories aren’t screed. The title story, “Friday Black” takes place on Black Friday at the shopping mall. In fact several stories take place there. Things have gotten to the point that deaths at the mall are expected. The main character has a scar on his bicep from a customer bite on a Black Friday in the past. He literally risks life and limb to sell the most crap.
I think my favorite story is “The Hospital Where.” The young man in the story is finding his way into writing, finding out that he must write, that writing has power. The Twelve-tongued God visits him while he’s in the hospital ER with his father, and before you know it he is flexing his power to write happy outcomes for all of the patients. Very meta story!
I look forward to his next book. This is a promising new voice, as they say.