Heads of the Colored People: Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
The first time I laid eyes on this book, I was at my close friend’s house and was completely mesmerized by the cover and amazing colors of this stunning book on her shelf, the title too was just as eye catching. I’m not sure if you have seen the U.K cover of this book, but it is a stunner (check out the amazon link below review for the U.K cover). It even feels luxurious and so bold. The U.S one is pretty good too (that is the cover on photo above), but I did initially love that U.K cover so much. A big shout out to my buddy Nicole for bringing this excellent book into my life.
Heads of the Colored People: Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires is a collection of very well written short stories highlighting different lives of black middle class citizens. The stories are filled with quirky and engaging characters of whom we follow in their everyday lives covering subjects that range from race, mental health, identity politics and generally being a middle/upper class black person just trying to live their own lives.
Most of the characters in the stories were actually not very like-able, but what I liked about them is you could see where their struggles lie and could therefore sympathize with them even if they weren’t all that great. I liked that Thompson-Spires dealt with subjects that aren’t normally spoken or written about, for example, one of the characters in the short stories was into Cosplay. I actually until very recently did not know what Cosplay was until my brother explained it to me, it’s a sort of hobby where people like to dress up as their favorite characters from movies, video games, books, especially Japanese books, but it can truly range. The idea that there are black Cosplay lovers out there is something that is rarely mentioned and I do like how she highlighted all these interesting and engaging characters in her book that totally fit in with the times that we live in.
Most of the books I have read in the past tend to be about race and identity politics in the past but this was an inside look into the lives of black middle class people who some of which you can totally relate to. Throughout the book, Thompson-Spires keeps an understated humorous tone which I enjoyed reading in her characters and stories, even though some of the subjects were quite heavy and dark, there was always a bit of humor around the corner that sort of evens out the book in a nice way. Some of the stories were interconnected so that was cool to read and was also good to know the characters’ full story or continuation of their lives. I would recommend reading it from beginning to end, but I do have to say, one of the best things about reading short stories is that you can skip and read whichever story you would like which you can very much do with this book. But I would recommend to stay in the order of it, that way, you get a more rounder experiences of the intertwining character developments. I liked that in this book, all the characters were in some way, dealing with their privileged lives in the sense that they were mainly the only black people in their bubble or neighborhoods meaning they already have that added pressure to represent the black race when all they wanna do is just be a normal person like their peers. Even after overcoming racism in our time, it will always remain an issue in parts of the world where it is predominantly white and you are the only black person. That is what Thompson-Spires writes about in these short stories. I could totally relate myself because I took a lot of yoga classes while living in London, and in most locations that I went to, I was literary the only black chick in there, the pressure was real, and until you know what that feels like, I’d say pick this book up and see for yourself.
Fun fact: Heads of the Colored People was inspired by the late James McCune Smith, an African-American abolitionist and physician in the 19th Century. Smith wrote a book titled- ‘Heads of the Colored People, Done With a White Wash Brush’. It was a series of 10 sketches highlighting different races of people, mostly black who all have this one thing in common and that is overcoming slavery to be productive US citizens through their integrity and labor. In Heads of the Colored People, Thompson-Spires focused on the middle-class black race and how they all live in this privileged world and deal with it or live through it. It’s a cool inspiration if I do say so myself! It is very well written and a good informative read. I respected that from the book, I didn’t fall head over heels in love with it, but I’m so glad I read it and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great collection of short stories. Excellent work of contemporary literature in our century and time.
This is a great read if your a lover of short stories. It’s also got a great dark humor to it which I liked, it’s a pretty great read if your a black nerd too btw! Or if your a curious person and want to know what it is like for middle class black folk in a 21st century world.
My beaut friend Nicole recently did an amazing podcast with Nafissa Thompson-Spires herself! Check out her podcast Shelf Life and her awesome interview on Heads of the Colored People: Stories with Thompson-Spires below.
iTunes Podcast link- Click Here
Acast Podcast link- Click Here
To purchase on Book Depository, CLICK HERE
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Short Stories, Cultural- African-American, Humorous Fiction
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