Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Portrait Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
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Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was born in Spring Valley, New York, to Ghanaian parents in 1990. He studied English, journalism, and film studies at the University of Albany, State University of New York, and received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, New York, where he teaches today.

Adjei-Brenyahʼs short stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazines, including »The Paris Review«, »Guernica Magazine«, and the »Breakwater Review«, which awarded him the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize in 2017. His debut work »Friday Black« was released in 2018 and was met with international acclaim. The volumeʼs twelve short stories outline dystopian scenarios of violence, racism, and uninhibited consumption that ultimately point to contemporary America. The introductory story »Finkelstein 5« highlights the injustice of the US judicial system and, at the same time, shows the consequences of the everyday experience of racism: The protagonist not only witnesses the acquittal of a middle-aged white man who murdered five black children in cold blood, he also learns to regulate his blackness on a scale of one to ten, depending on the given social context. In the cover story »Friday Black«, an ordinary shopping mall becomes the apocalyptic scene heated consumers who trample each other to death. A scene that, despite all the dystopia, looks terrifyingly indicative of the present. With his dark, often absurdly fantastic and sometimes comical stories about the big problems of our time, Adjei-Brenyah falls in the tradition of politically active literature. When asked why he wrote political stories, the author answered in an interview in »The Paris Review« by saying that as a writer you participate in society: »… no art (or person) emerges from a vacuum. I do not mean that all art has a political platform, but rather that artists have an identity that intersects with society in various ways. To create art has political implications. To be black and exist in a space has implications.«

»Friday Black« has been highly praised by critics and has received several awards, including the PEN-Jean Stein Book Award and the John Leonard Award for the Best First Book. Adjei-Brenyah was placed on the National Book Foundationʼs »5 under 35« list in 2018. The author lives in Syracuse, New York.