RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe first quarter of the novel jumps around in time but is consistent in tone: urgent, sharp and expansive ... we do hear a lot about the brain, and addiction, and crack addiction specifically, all written with a dark kind of sparkling — a retroactive knowledge of the coming destruction, delivered cynically, at times almost derisively ... In his telling, it feels fast, and relentlessly readable even as we experience the bottomless needs and vacuous highs ... While the darkness and debasement of addiction are not new to literature, Sanchez’ approach feels rare. David is remembering — first person, past tense — from the front lines of full-on derangement, with a kind of sober, extremely honest reportage ... Much of this novel feels like the longest, most trying day in the life of a character who doesn’t know why he does what he does, nor even why he would want to stop. The reader is left to sort it out, which is both rewarding and engaging ... It’s a book of questions, and when it comes to addiction there are no answers — only stories ... This coming back to life may sound like a conventional addiction arc, but in Sanchez’ hands it never feels forced or hokey ... This exceptional debut is not a cautionary tale about the perils of drugs, but it certainly is the story of so many people right now, and it somehow leaves us with hope. What’s more, the rare if dark gems found along its ocean floors, all sharp and brittle and made of base desire, let us glean a part of what’s at the heart of addiction itself.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s the rare book that can achieve an appropriate balance between heaviness and levity, and it’s my favorite kind of novel. In his debut, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, Gabriel Bump pulls this off not just generously but seemingly without effort ... Just when the prose teeters on the edge of sentimentality, though, he pulls it back with humor ... Propelling the emotional intensity is the novel’s pace. Bump’s short chapters draw us in quickly, urgently, like: Come hear this ... If I had any problem with the book, it was logistical, related to certain plot points inserted seemingly for convenience, but without organic explanation, or even a simple acknowledgment from our narrator. This kind of quibble is both big and small ... Despite this narrative not-so-sleight of hand, Bump’s ending still manages to be unexpected and unromantic, while containing so much love and hope ... Most funny things are funny because they’re real, this book included. I mean real, here, as something distinct from realism; his characters feel true to their environment in ways only an author who has known people like this, has lived a life at least adjacent to this one, could write ... I also believe we as readers have a responsibility to not only call out problematic examples, but also to honor those doing it right, those of any color who are writing about underrepresented or misrepresented communities, and doing the best of what fiction can do at the same time. Gabriel Bump is doing that, has done that.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"In Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has written a powerful and important and strange and beautiful collection of stories meant to be read right now ... Friday Black is an unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice. This is a dystopian story collection as full of violence as it is of heart. To achieve such an honest pairing of gore with tenderness is no small feat ... In Friday Black, the dystopian future Adjei-Brenyah depicts — like all great dystopian fiction — is bleakly futuristic only on its surface. At its center, each story — sharp as a knife — points to right now.\