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"Can I tell you a story?"
"Yes, one about me," I say. "It's one I've never told anyone....."
“The DNA sample that you have provided does not match any of our records. Please return another sample to us.” He paused and read it again. Without saying anything, he flipped it over and skimmed the other side. It listed the countries: 0%, 0%, 0%. Another small line at the bottom: “Your DNA sample has not returned any matches.”
Through the knees of his suit trousers, woollen and scratchy, the child could feel the wet soil seeping. He had found a snail to watch.
He kissed me with the kind of urgency you only really see in the movies. It was only now that I started to detect the slightest flavour of something charred and earthy in his tongue. He was definitely a smoker.
From the first to the last, Adjei-Brenyah’s ‘Friday Black’ collection of short stories holds rank among some of the most visually-thrilling, inflammatory and enriching ones I’ve ever read. It’s a provoking and daring look at the lives and experiences of black men and women today and every day before, wrapped up in deliciously clever language.
I’m little. Only two years or so. I must be less than three years old, because she’s still alive. I’m outside, somewhere. I’m surrounded by people - large, looming faces that I don’t recognise. I tip my head over the arms that hold me to look around. There’s a beautiful one, two old ones, a big one, a really big one, a furry one, and there’s her.
I had SUCH high hopes for this novel. The premise sounded great. The world has ended in nuclear war? YES PLEASE. Survivors are holed up in a hotel, and a body turns up? HELLA POIROT, GIMME. The race is on to find the killer? I’M THERE. The cover and the blurb activated that little part of my brain which said ‘ooooh’ and I’d plonked it in my basket during the final four seconds of waiting in line at Waterstones. A choice I regretted almost immediately after reading the first few chapters.
When he died, a big part of Peter thought the rest of the world would too. He’d thought about how it might happen, many times. Not the way he’d die - that seemed fairly obvious to him - but how the world would cease after he was no longer there to watch it. Would the earth disappear with a bubble-wrap ‘pop’ at the moment his main artery finally clogged? Would the colors in the world start to drain as his vision swam? Would the roads, forests and oceans, some that he’d travelled across and some that he’d only read about, start to fold up on themselves like giant monoliths in the sky as his own heart constricted and failed in his chest? Most importantly, would anyone know why it was happening?
The air was so hot that it hovered around her nostrils even as she walked. Somehow the air outside felt warmer than the hot blood running through her veins, and it made Judy uncomfortable. There hadn’t been a single breeze between her house and the town hall which had given her any release from this feeling, and her skin was already prickling at the thought of pushing open the door and feeling the cool air that only a place with stone walls 10 feet thick could have on this summer day.