28 Days of Literary Blackness With VSB | Day 26: Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Literary Blackness With VSB | Day 26: iHeads of the Colored People/i by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Image: Heads of the Colored People (Simon & Schuster)

Publisher Synopsis: 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.

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I’m cheating a little bit here because this is the book I just finished reading for the VSB x Mahogany Books Monthly Book Club we have going on. But I couldn’t not include this book after reading it. Her storytelling style is original as hell and maaaaaan listen, the details. I didn’t have any idea what the book was about, to be honest. But I read the book jacket and it said words like “humor” and “hilarious,” and I like those two words and I like books, and books by black folks, so I figured all win. I wasn’t ready.

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Even the types of stories—there’s an entire ass “chapter” (as it were) that is a back and forth exchange of two highly educated black mothers about their daughter’s issues in class as the only two black children, but it’s, like....dark as fuck while being also hilarious that it’s even taking place. Except it takes place in 1991, and then the next chapter (or maybe the chapter after the next) is one of the girls at 33 years old reflecting on her youth, while at a yoga class, because she’s sweating and another black woman shows up.

The style the stories are written in, as a writer, is as awesome as the stories themselves, which are so drilled down that I kept saying to myself how impressive the book is as I was reading. If you’re looking for a short story collection with some flair to it that might also have you wondering what it is that you’re reading and how she came up with that thought? Heads of the Colored People is your book.

Heads of the Colored People (2018) by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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DISCUSSION

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Thotline Bling: black girl supremacy

to be honest, i started reading this book, but gave up because i found the writer’s style frustrating. while i enjoyed the back & forth letters, i just didn’t “get” some of the stories (the first one about the protest, for example). maybe i think too hard? or need things to be too concrete, perhaps? idk.

i also love a good aside/characters “breaking the 4th wall” or whatever, but at times the parenthetical parenthetical comments were too much.

maybe i’ll pull the literary stick out my butt and give it another go.