Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

NYT Bestselling Novelist
PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Small Miracles: The Surreal, Speculative and the Human Scale
  • An Evening with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


“Inventive, stirring, ingenious. Adjei-Brenyah is a versatile writer who creates a micro-universe with each story that explodes our expectations and takes us inside frustrated lives.” —Bernardine Evaristo

“Brutal, maximalist, and often gorgeously profane missiles of dystopian satire.” –Esquire

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the author of national bestseller Chain-Gang All-Stars (Penguin Random House, 2023) and NYT-bestselling short story collection Friday Black (Mariner Books, 2018). Selected by Colson Whitehead as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees, Adjei-Brenyah is considered a “new and necessary American voice” by Tommy Orange in his The New York Times Book Review for Friday Black, wielding speculative fiction to deftly carve out a space for new black surrealism.

Adjei-Brenyah’s debut novel, Chain Gang All-Stars, is a dystopian vision of barely future America, in which inmates serving lifetime sentences opt into a series of publicly televised death matches in an attempt to win their freedom.  About the book, Kiese Laymon said, “In a narrative world where the real is growingly more unbelievable than the make believe, Chain-Gang All-Stars is an uncanny, singular feat of literature. I’ve never read satire so bruising, so brolic, so tender and really, so pitch-perfect.”

Chain Gang All-Stars was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, winner of the ALA Alex Award, and longlisted for the The Center for Fiction’s 2023 First Novel Prize, The Aspen Literary Award, and The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, among others. A Best Book of the Year in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Elle, Esquire, Lit Hub, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews, Chain Gang All-Stars was praised by Stephen King as a story with, “brutal subject matter, beautiful writing… this one is from the heart,” while the Washington Post compared the work to the dystopian triumphs of Orwell and Atwood, “Adjei-Brenyah’s book presents a dystopian vision so illuminating that it should permanently shift our understanding of who we are and what we’re capable of doing.” For its debut in May 2023, Chain Gang All-Stars was featured by The Today Show’s Read with Jenna Book Club and Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club.

Adjei-Brenyah is also author of the New York Times bestselling short story collection Friday Black (Mariner Books, 2018).  An indictment of racism and cautionary tale against the perils of unchecked consumerism, Friday Black explores the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. The New York Times called Friday Black “an unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice.” Of the collection, George Saunders notes, “These stories are an excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny, yet classical in the way they take on stubborn human problems: the depravities of capitalism, love struggling to assert itself within heartless systems. The wildly talented Adjei-Brenyah has made these edgy tales immensely charming, via his resolute, heartful, immensely likeable narrators, capable of seeing the world as blessed and cursed at once.” Friday Black was winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for Best First Book and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

Originally from Spring Valley, New York, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah graduated from SUNY Albany, received his MFA from Syracuse University, and has taught at Columbia University and Syracuse University.

Short Bio

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was raised in Spring Valley, New York, and now lives in the Bronx. His debut collection, Friday Black, was a New York Times bestseller, won the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize. His first novel Chain-Gang All-Stars was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and the Books Are My Bag Awards, and selected as a New York Times Top Ten Books of the Year. Adjei-Brenyah is a National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35’ honoree.

Visit Author Website



Articles & Audio

Selected Writings

Download Assets

Let’s get started

If you’re interested in this speaker, complete this form to begin the conversation.