Author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s “Friday Black” Reflects Current Moment
For this year’s Howard County Book Connection selection, Dr. Lillian Bauder and the Howard County Book Connection committee reviewed several suggestions, paying particular attention to the interests of students and Howard Community College’s commitment to diversity in education.
With its brilliantly experimental writing, satirical exploration of urgent contemporary issues, and the ease with which the short story format could be integrated into student instruction, “Friday Black” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah quickly jumped to the top for the committee. The themes of the book were particularly resonant, as the committee’s deliberations coincided with the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and other increasingly visible concerns of racial injustice.
“Overwhelmingly, we were convinced that the book was relevant to the issues of the day,” said Nana Owusu-Nkwantabisa, director of HCC’s library and member of the selection committee. “We had no idea that the unfortunate incidents of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were about to happen and would galvanize the world into heeding the long-standing cry of racism and police brutality.”
“Friday Black” features a collection of twelve short stories that explore the injustices experienced by Black men and women in the U.S. and tackles urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest.
Through the generosity of Dr. Bauder, the Howard County Book Connection is able to bring the author of its selected book to Howard Community College to deliver the annual Bauder Lecture. Author Adjei-Brenyah will deliver the inaugural lecture Thursday, March 4 at 12 p.m. Following his keynote, Adjei-Brenyah will be joined by Tope Folarin, a Nigerian-American writer based in Washington, D.C., and the author of “A Particular Kind of Black Man,” for an in-depth conversation and questions from the audience.
“With its unflinching look at systemic racism, ‘Friday Black’ was the optimal choice, as HCC students and community members were moved to speak and act constructively in response to social injustice, and in the spirit of HCC's commitment to anti-racism,” said Tara Hart, a professor of English, the chair of humanities, and a member of the selection committee.
To further facilitate student engagement with this powerful book, faculty have included “Friday Black” as a recommended course text, encouraging students to examine Adjei-Brenyah's strategic literary devices and structures to inform their own writing. Students also have an opportunity to respond to “Friday Black” with essays or other creative expressions and submit an entry for one of two Don Bauder Student Awards.
In accordance with social distancing guidelines, the committee elected to conduct the Bauder Lecture and subsequent student workshop virtually, so as not to miss the opportunity to engage the community in the book's issues.
The Howard County Book Connection is partnership of Howard Community College and the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society. The Howard County Library System is a co-promoter of the Bauder Lecture.
To RSVP for the lecture, visit https://www.howardcc.edu/discover/arts-culture/lectures-talks/bauder-series-rsvp.html.