Heads of the Colored People: Stories
By Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Available now everywhere books are sold.
Atria/ 37 Ink/ Simon and Schuster (US)
Chatto & Windus/ Vintage/ Penguin (UK)
Edizioni Black Coffee (Italy)
~The PEN Open Book Award
~The LA Times Art Sidenbaum Award for First Fiction
~The Hurston/Wright Award for Fiction
~Longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award
~The Audie Award for Best Short Stories
"A bold new voice, at once insolently sardonic and incisively compassionate, asserts itself amid a surging wave of young African-American fiction writers. ...Thompson-Spires’ auspicious beginnings auger a bright future in which she could set new standards for the short story."
–Starred Kirkus review
"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
“Nafissa Thompson-Spires has taken the best of what Toni Cade Bambara, Paul Beatty, Morgan Parker and Junot Diaz do plus a whole lot of something we've never seen in American literature, blended it all together and giving us one of the finest short story collections I've ever read. The super thin lines between terror, intimacy, humor and hubris are masterfully toed, jumped and ultimately redrawn in the most exciting and soulful fiction I've read this century. The nation needed Heads of Colored People 40 years ago. Thankfully, Nafissa Thompson-Spires gave it to us now.”
– Kiese Laymon, Long Division
"This is one of the best short story debuts I’ve read in my whole life. It’s that simple. Nafissa Thompson-Spires is the real deal. Straight up, no hyperbole. Read a couple pages and recognize.”
– Mat Johnson, Pym and Loving Day.
"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
“Nafissa Thompson-Spires has a way of staring intense, awkward, comic, and sorrowful situations right in the face. There's no escaping her honest gaze. Heads of the Colored People is a necessary and powerful new collection with, thankfully, not a dull sentence to be found.”
– Peter Orner, Am I Alone Here?
“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
“What a true pleasure it is to spend time with this alive mind thinking so openly and interestingly on the page about character and culture and storytelling and one’s everchanging role in it all. This book made me laugh many times, and I also sometimes stopped midpage to read a paragraph aloud just to relish how Thompson-Spires was moving her story along. A marvel of a debut.”
– Aimee Bender, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
“The stories in Heads of the Colored People bring layer after layer of awe, humor, style, and vividness. All of that comes as Nafissa Thompson-Spires finds new and distinct angles to show the contours of each story’s world. On the bus. At the DMV. On social media. The fine details and the narrative style show the minds, bodies, and circumstances of an evocative mixture of folks. There’s so much to recommend here, from the commentary to the line, where these sentences build feelings, rooms, and the people we find there. The fidelity of the voices comes through in a way that makes Nafissa Thompson-Spires work stay with you.”
– Ravi Howard, Driving the King
“Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ stories fearlessly tackle broad issues of race, identity politics, and the body, while never losing sight of the intricately-faceted individuals inhabiting those bodies. She writes with a precision of psychological insight that is both moving and profound. Dignified, controlled, and, above all, original: Thompson-Spires is an important new voice in contemporary fiction.”
– Jamie Quatro, Fire Sermon