Heads of the Colored People

Heads of the Colored People


Book - 2018
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Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction and Kirkus Prize Finalist

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.
Publisher: New York :, 37 INK/Atria,, 2018
Edition: First 37 INKAtria books hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501167997
Characteristics: 209 pages


From the critics

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Mar 31, 2020

*****I have not read this book. I cannot remove it from my shelves.*****

Feb 24, 2020

These short stories are excellent and devastating and hopeful, intertwined with each other in a way that flows easily from story to story. A few stories followed the same character, and often a minor character from one story would be prominently featured in the next. They all examine and ruminate on the characters’ experiences of Blackness, class, friendship, the desire to be an individual and where it pulls against the desire to be in community, and a host of other hopes and frustrations. I kept thinking I would take a break “after this story,” and I made that deal with myself…..at least five times without it actually working. The characters were each distinctly realized, and Thompson-Spires’ sharp observations add both humor and depth.

IndyPL_KimE Aug 19, 2019

This book of stories is riveting, raw, funny, sad and left me questioning or wanting more. It is timely delving into topics of ASMR, health conditions, race and police shootings, and more. I can't divulge the stories, but my favorite is about two women who have their PHDs. I plan on reading more by Nafissa Thomphson-Spires.

Jul 27, 2019

Only clever, and who wants to read about the upper middle-class anyway.

Jul 23, 2019

My wife picked this one up and I ended up reading it. A collection of short stories that interweave some of the characters and storylines throughout, some really great characters.. Highly recommend.

Jun 06, 2019

"I read a lot. . .but I never saw myself reflected in any of those stories, I never saw black characters like me, dealing with being the only one."-Nafissa Thompson-Spires, in an
interview with NPR
The characters in Nafissa Thompson-Spires's debut story collection mostly undistinguished and live unspectacular lives. A woman tries to hold it together in the DMZ. A well-meaning liberal couple try to live a sustainable life and run a lifestyle blog about it. Two mothers with feuding daughters send nasty notes to each other. All the characters are in varying states of crisis and whatever their flaws, Thompson-Spires treats them with understated sympathy. It's a strong collection that introduces an important new talent.

Apr 28, 2019

Each story in this collection was consistently good and that doesn't happen very often with a short story collection. Yet overall I thought it was a good collection, but not a great one.

Apr 28, 2019

Her writing is incredible! I can't wait to see more of what she does. I'm not always one for short stories but each of these was gripping.

Nov 02, 2018

I agree with the other comment. Good book a recommended read. Thanks MCL for always having a great collection of books!!

Jun 26, 2018

I loved how many of the stories are woven together. Some were funny, others were a bit dark and twisted putting a look of astonishment on your face and leaving a sick feeling in your stomach. Overall, a very good collection of short stories.

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jraxlly Jul 05, 2018

jraxlly thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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