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Heads of the Colored People  By  cover art

Heads of the Colored People

By: Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo
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Publisher's Summary

A stunning new talent in literary fiction, Nafissa Thompson-Spires grapples with black identity and the contemporary middle class in these compelling, boundary-pushing vignettes.

Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous - from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids' backpacks to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide - while others are devastatingly poignant - a new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper-middle-class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.

Thompson-Spires fearlessly shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body. Boldly resisting categorization and easy answers, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an original and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.

©2018 Nafissa Thompson-Spires (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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What listeners say about Heads of the Colored People

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What a great book

I absolutely love short stories and this book didn't disappoint. I really enjoyed how some of the stories were weaved into others yet were just as strong alone. A great book for any collection! I am now on the hunt for more books like this. Nafissa Thompson-Spires is now one of my new favorite authors!

6 people found this helpful

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wonderfully written

every ending to the short surprised left my mouth gaping on my daily commute on the bus. not shocking endings just well written and gives an honest outlook on people

4 people found this helpful

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Sketches Well Drawn

The performance is well done so the audible version is worth the listen. The collection is filled with well drawn characters and with voices filled with spirit and life. The author captures the struggle of surviving under the gaze of whiteness with expert precision. Always centering black characters and an internal battle to be recognized. Although I’m not black, but Native American, I found all the stories very relatable to contemporary Native lives seeking upward mobility. I enjoyed the brutal honesty in the stories and the unique voice of the author. I highly recommend this book. Especially if you want a unique read to talk with friends and family.

2 people found this helpful

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My thoughts

Thoughts on The Heads of the Colored People
Review by Marissa Boglin

“The Heads of the Colored People” is a necessary read for any person of color. Thompson-Spires explores a myriad of society’s blemishes in this short-story collection, including ableism, bullying, and social class. The individual stories are uniquely intertwined and collectively share the common theme of the American dream. The characters in this literary piece are on a mission to discover their contributions to the world. The most compelling element of the book is Thompson Spires’ dexterous ability to create a broad range of characters with attributes that make them distinctive and memorable. For instance, Fatima, a protagonist in the stories “Belles Lettres” and “The Subject of Consumption,” is the illegitimate daughter of a doctor that has hyperhidrosis at a young age. Another example, Raina, makes ASMR videos in the story “Whisper to a Scream.”

Nafissa Thompson-Spires was born in 1983 and has several accolades to her credit. “The Heads of the Colored People” was her debut offering to the literary world. “The Heads of the Colored People” won the Los Angeles Times Art Sidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the PEN Open Book Award, and a Hurston/Wright Award for fiction. In 2018, she was long-listed for the National Book Award and later won the 2019 Whiting Award. She earned a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in writing from the University of Illinois.

The prose in “The Heads of the Colored People” is intoxicating as Thompson-Spires does a beauteous play with words. The writing is poetic, and there are no instances of purple prose. She creates characters that are three-dimensional and emotionally impact readers. Readers can learn so much from characters like the different Todds in “This Todd” who refuse to accept sympathy from Kim, the first-person narrator. The reader can also learn valuable lessons in how a pessimistic outlook on life can keep them in bondage, as in the story “Not Today, Marjorie.”

“The Heads of the Colored People” was published by Simon and Schuster in 2018. It is a must-have for anyone who loves engaging stories with unforgettable characters.

1 person found this helpful

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Great short stories

Picked up this book as a recommendation to understand more about diversity. Found the book instead to be a book about people.

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely Petty...Loved It!

The story about the Mother's spoke to every petty bone in my body! I could definitely see myself saying those things (Oh the shame!) LOL!

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voices in our heads

Liked the stories, narrator was great, some stories ended too abruptly. More variation in voices.

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interesting not sure I liked it

struggled to understand some stories. made you think what was trying to be said. ca g say good or bad.

1 person found this helpful

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  • m
  • 10-01-20

Very enjoyable with humor twisted with reality.

Great read of short stories of the mosaic of African Americans. Humor, truth, and relatable.

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Forced to Read and Analyze this book for College

[Read Headline] Not my type of book, I am sure someone will get some enjoyment out of it. I didn't have the will to read it but thankfully Audible had this in their catalog. Saved time by having it read to me to fill out the questions that the Professor made us answer regarding each short story.