Our favorite books of the year.
If I could stretch this book past the last page and into the infinite, I would, because I never wanted it to end. Whether she's chronicling an epistolary rivalry between two mothers who should know better (but thankfully don't), giving an achingly detailed account of a police shooting, or trying to craft the perfect suicidal Facebook post, Thompson-Spires entertains as much as she indicts. Her stories perfectly encapsulate modern life in a way that is both timely and timeless — Heads of the Colored People doesn't just make an impression, it leaves a mark. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
There's a lot of writing about the intersections of race and class, social media and communication, and the intersection of the personal and the political. This collection of short stories made me think about those connections in ways I had never considered. Every character is unforgettable and like no one we've ever seen before, and these stories shimmer with humor, sorrow, and grace. I can't wait to read what Nafissa Thompson-Spires writes next. Recommended By Tim B., Powells.com
This collection is razor-sharp. Recommended By Hayley H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
“The stories here are dazzling, wise, wicked and tender. Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ debut is a knockout.” Kelly Link, Get in Trouble: Stories
“Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an unusually intricate matrix of clear-eyed observation and devastating revelation about what it means to be a human being alive on this aching, raucous, unjust planet in the early 21st century. It is also, often, extremely funny, and is very smart on every page and gorgeously, rewardingly varied in its sentences and forms.” Laird Hunt, Neverhome
"Vivid, fast, funny, way-smart, and verbally inventive, these stories by the vastly talented Thompson-Spires create a compelling surface tension made of equal parts skepticism towards human nature and intense fondness of it. Located on the big questions, they are full of heart." George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo
"With devastating insight and remarkable style, Nafissa Thompson-Spires explores what it means to come to terms with one’s body, one’s family, one’s future. The eleven vignettes in Heads of the Colored People elevate the unusual and expose the unseen, forming an original—and urgent—portrait of American life.” Allegra Hyde Of This New World