Ep. 266 We Are the Ones Who Make the World with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – Transcript

Award-winning author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah joins us for a spoiler-free discussion of his new novel Chain-Gang All Stars. He shares the pressures of releasing his second book on a topic that asks so much from the reader, and his trepidation around serving the cause of abolition in the prison space. Plus, we find out what makes revision so important to Nana, and how he thinks about employing violence in the book to help tell this story.

The Stacks Book Club selection for May is This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris. We will discuss the book on May 31st with Nicole Chung.


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Photo: Alex M. Philip

Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we are joined by the New York Times best selling author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, his much anticipated second book Chain-Gang All Stars was just released last week and it is so good. The book takes on mass incarceration, capitalism and entertainment through imagining a world where those convicted of the most brutal crimes can fight each other to the death to earn their freedom. Chain-Gang All Stars is a powerful satirical indictment of systemic racism, unfettered capitalism and the United States prison system. I have no doubt that this novel will be one of the best things I read all year. And if Nana’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he’s been on The Stacks before. Back in 2019, we featured his short story collection Friday Black as a Stacks book club pick. Today Nana and I talk about the pressure of a second book, ambition and storytelling and using writing to uncover what the writer truly believes. Remember, our main book club selection is this boy we made a memoir of motherhood, genetics and facing the unknown by Taylor Harris. We will discuss the book on May 31 with Nicole Chung. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. And if you love the stacks, and you want more of it, like our incredible community on Discord bonus episodes, monthly virtual book club meetups, you must join the stacks pack on Patreon. It is just $5 a month, you get all of that and more and you get to know that you’re helping to make this podcast possible every single week, head to patreon.com/thestacks and join us now. I want to give a quick shout out to our newest members of the stacks pack. Jessica daily, Emma Shaw, Jose Oliveras. Heather M and Kristen Johnson. Thank you all so much. And thank you to the entire stacks pack. And now it’s time for my conversation with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

All right, everybody. I am so excited. I have a returning guest to the podcast. He is the author of Friday Black, a book we did on the stacks for book club, a book that he came to the show to talk about in 2019. And now he’s back with his debut novel his second book, Chain-Gang All Stars. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, welcome back.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 2:30
Thank you so much. Congratulations, five years later. Stacks is as strong as ever.

Traci Thomas 2:37
Reunited! Okay, I wasn’t going to start here. But I am going to start here. The book there is a character name whose name is Stacks. And she has a stacks pack. And I need to know if that was a nod to the Stacks podcast. The stacks pack on Patreon. It was the first note I took I was like I got to ask you about that.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 3:00
That’s amazing. It is not. It- what is the what is the stacks pack?

Traci Thomas 3:03
The Stacks pack is our Patreon community.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 3:07
Oh, that’s like your beehive.

Traci Thomas 3:09
Yeah, exactly. That’s my beehive.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 3:11
No, that’s amazing, though. But if you want to say it is if you want to say that’s what it is. You can say it was. Oh, I had been writing it. It’s like seven- So I was writing this book before Friday Black came out. I thought was gonna be starting Friday Black so I had some of the earlier chapters even seven years ago. But that’s amazing, still.

Traci Thomas 3:35
we’re gonna tell people on the stacks pack. It’s definitely about you. Don’t worry. Okay, well, let’s let’s go back to the beginning. In about 30 seconds or so will you just tell folks about Chain-Gang All Stars?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 3:46
Chain-Gang All Stars is about an imagined future in which convicted wards of state can opt out of a sentence of at least 25 years and participate in death matches. If they survive three years in this sort of circuit of this Bloodsport, they are given the chance to be freely given clemency. But really, it’s about these two women in particular, who are sort of well established participants called links in these games. And one of them’s final weeks as a member of the sport which is called chain-gang all stars.

Traci Thomas 4:17
Okay. I had a plan about how I wanted to do this but now that I’m looking at you and talking to you, I’m going I’m doing an audible the player imagination is fucking unreal, Nona. I mean, I feel like people who read Friday black, we know this about you. But this book has gone next level. I feel I feeling like it’s such a maturing of your work. I feel like you have dug in deeper. Somehow. It’s more political. I feel. I mean, obviously, it’s a full length novel. So there’s like a lot to get into which we will, but I want to start with your imagination. How does this stuff come to you? Like you have these names for what the handcuffs are and there’s like these silencers and there’s a thing You know, called an influencer, which we’ll get to. And I just, like even the names of the characters, like it’s just so vivid and rich and feel so right on what it should be in the world that you’ve created. And so I want to know how the world comes to you, and then how the little tiny things come.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 5:18
Yeah, it’s a first thank you so much. I think that when you’re doing the world building thing, I’m trying to think of who said it. Either many people have said it, but I kind of tried to like mine, my characters business, so to speak. So I think about that we’re sort of the central beam of the story of the novel, right? So what is going to affect her day to day is these handcuffs sort of implanted in her and all her pupils in chain gangs, wrists? So that is a pretty defining element of her life. And so I feel like as a writer, I should have some pretty specific ideas about it. Because it’s not like a normal chair. It’s not like a normal handcuff. It’s this magnetic thing that was implanted. So I’m like, What’s the story behind that? Some company would obviously make it someone would profit off of that, because that’s always a part of the net. That’s what I’ve discovered is very much a part of the carceral. Everything is profit in who’s getting paid for what? And then so just for me, it just becomes not only necessary, but kind of fun to think about the specifics. Okay. Like I will point I remember, I was researching the units for magnetism to figure out like how to talk about a stronger or less strong magnet, like 4.4, point two, Tesla’s versus not you know what I mean? So I’ll just, I’ll drill in on whatever I think is going to affect her her life. And I don’t know I, how I how I do that is just by acting as though it’s a real thing was like, what would be like the first paragraph a little bit Kapiti a page about that object or item. And a lot of times you’ll get saved out and not be included in the book. But sometimes it will be included in the book. So I just like to think about what are actually going to affect my characters materially. And sometimes if it’s not something that exists in our current world, how can I make it as true to life as possible?

Traci Thomas 7:05
And when you’re doing that, because like, one of the things that I think is cool in this book is like, there’s a lot of little details and things that come up that we sort of learn about later. Like, you know, the handcuffs are kind of mentioned, and then, like, not exactly clear what it is, right? And then as we get going, it’s like, Oh, I see this is this is a handcuff thing where they can’t move, and they’re locked in. So as a as a writer, and as a storyteller, how are you thinking about kind of explaining your world to us, or showing your world to us without just being like, this was a ham cough. And it works like this, like, because you don’t really do that?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 7:39
Except for what not? Sometimes I do you know?

Traci Thomas 7:42
But no, it’s it’s more like explaining. It’s not actually explaining what the thing is. It’s explaining, like, who makes the thing or like, but it wasn’t clear. Like I was like, Okay, this is a thing. But I still don’t exactly understand what the thing is. Yeah. You know what I mean?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 7:55
For me, it’s, it makes sense. Because I think about like, if an alien came to the planet today, even a traditional handcuff, it would be like, What the hell is this? And so it was demonstrated as a restraint tool, right? So I tried to have it be, if something if I’m introducing an item to the reader that is not exist and is named, I’ll try to have it be demonstrated meaningfully, usually again, intersecting with either 30, or one of the other main characters in the book. And I just, I feel like some of that instinct for those kinds of things kind of comes naturally to me, okay. Whether or not even to come naturally said, I’ll think that even because it takes work to make these things up, right, right. If I’m gonna bother to make something brand new, it’s gonna be because I needed the world to interact with a character in a specific way that maybe it’s not exactly possible with the current technology available to us in our current life. So usually, it’s about okay, I want her to be kept in place right now. And easily, like, I want her and I need her strength to be absolute, but I also needed to be really free. Right? So how can I do that? Okay, there’s a there’s a switch, you know, it’s automated almost, or someone else is controlling it, but it’s always there, but it’s actually invisible. And that way, I get to have my cake and eat it too, for example. So that’s just one of many, many, many examples of that kind of thinking.

Traci Thomas 9:18
Yeah, and what I like about about your work, and I’ve always really admired about it is that while your imagination is really like vivid, and you’ve created all these, like things that are scary as fuck, it feels so rooted in in this world. And for me, that’s really helpful because it allows me to imagine a lot of more complicated, like, it allows me to dig in deeper to kind of what the point of the book is, instead of being stuck on the science fiction of it, right? Like I’m like, okay, I can I can I can keep going into the commentary on the carceral system, because I’m not stuck on the technology of the handcuff, right. And I guess like, back to where I was planning on starting, I want to know about audience for you. Because this book is, I mean, I think I’ve said this before, I think it’s one of the most ambitious books I’ve read in a really long time you’re taking on the carceral system you’re taking on, you know, gender dynamics, sexuality, you’re taking on capitalism, racism, like more specifically in capitalism, the entertainment industry, like you’re taking on so much. And so I’m wondering how you’re thinking about audience as you’re writing. And also like, how much you trust your audience?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 10:33
It’s such an interesting question. I’ve been in the Christian environments, I feel like it’s, we’re off the authors or writers or like often, I said, think about that. And I put a huge with all the times I’ve been asked my answer probably changes like every time. Because it’s really hard to say, because in the actual process of the song, writing has so many phases, there’s the initial idea inception, there’s the execution of the trying to execute a first draft. And then for me, the meat of it is really through the revision, going on to it over and over again. And then each of those stages, you might have a slightly different person in mind, you know, if there is even a particular person at all, for me, I try to imagine a slightly funnier, smarter, cooler version of myself, you know, that would be entertained, but also really desires for their, with their entertainment to feel like they’re becoming a better, more complete person as that’s happening as well. And so if I broaden that out, of course, I’m interested in like, I’m from a place called Spring Valley, Rockland County, I was born in Queens. And so I’m interested in kids who maybe are not always pushed into like, quote, unquote, literary spaces feeling like they can feel seen and represented in their work. So for sure, that’s there. I’m mostly interested in people who feel like the world could be a lot better giving a space to imagine a world that’s much worse and get to like flex that imaginative muscle, I’m interested in that. I’m interested in people who, in this book, in particular, who know that the shonen manga anime thing, because there’s so many some of that action orientated thing there, but also knowing that to have action and engagement, you don’t have to sacrifice intellectual viability, I don’t know, whatever. But so so a lot of different people. And really anybody who is open to the idea that the world could change, I think, and so it’s pretty broad. But I think materially in terms of trust, I really think about trust, I think about generosity. I try my best as a reader. I just did the times thing like the times by the book thing. Oh, exciting. And yeah, it’s weird to get to do that kind of, there’s so many things you get exposed to, and I’m so used to people, I look up to doing those things. And I’m always sort of,

Traci Thomas 12:57
Now you’re a person like that!

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 13:00
Should be humbled to get a chance to you know, someone, let me do it. So hey, but they asked like a very seems like a simple question for you. What’s a good like, what makes a book bad? And I really, I really liked it. I think this like the teacher in me, I really like to like, put a lot of qualifiers on that. And I did it in my answer. And I was like, well, first off, we have to define what that is. Because what to me might seem like imprecision might be like a beautiful whimsy to somebody else. And for someone might feel like long winded illness or whatever it might be, you know, careful, cool. discourse that is wandering and meandering, are actually whatever, everyone got their tastes, I think they’re, I know what I like, right? And so that’s what I said, and I’m sort of forced to think and that was in that lens. And so, but I also try to think myself as a reader that’s pretty generous and can see the beauty in what other people are doing, even if it’s not exactly like what I’m trying to do. But yeah, so for me, it’s just a smarter, cooler, awesomer person version of myself, I think, today.

Traci Thomas 14:08
So as we’re talking your book isn’t quite out in the world yet, but it will be soon. And you have gone through the experience of putting a book in the world now it’s your second book. Do you have different trepidations around audience response than maybe you did the first time around now that you know better or no more? Um, because this book is like, I mean, for people who like are into abolition and into like saying, fuck the system, this book is very much our bread and butter. But for people who aren’t quite there yet, this book is definitely pushing is going to push people’s buttons for sure. Like, you can’t read this book and not think and feel and look at yourself in some way and be like, Hmm, am I contributing to this kind of stuff? So I’m just wondering, like, you know, and I know you know that because you wrote it and you don’t write something this St I’m not expecting people to get mad about it.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 15:03
I appreciate you saying that, that you think that that’s the case because that means a lot to me actually, I hope that that’s the feeling. I feel more the opposite. I’m more worried and or if I have a trepidation or fear, I’m more afraid of the people who are already in these spaces feel as though I didn’t do a good didn’t do a good service to the cause of abolition. Personally, I because if someone I don’t know if so, the people I feel like that discomfort that you’re describing. If if someone feels that discomfort, I hope that that means I’m doing exactly what I need to do because and maybe that initial response might be a rejection, but hopefully eventually a seed might be planted. Something could be felt meaningfully but if I was imprecise or, or wasn’t somehow failed to describe what some pupils feels like, a useful description of potential pitfalls of our current system or the possibilities of what we could do better. That feels a little bit sadder to me, I guess. But either way, there’s so many versions of terror that come with putting a book out into the world so you know, pick your pick your I’m sorry, pick your hair. It’s okay. Oh, okay. Oh, yes, it pick your fucking poison because you’re gonna feel trepidation no matter what. And it’s a it’s a terrifying thing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m noticing a more because I have a book coming out. Just today I saw a second article about all the anxiety and distress authors have that they’re debuting and then some people were like, You think debuting these bad weights. You put out a second book? I saw that tweet. Yeah, I think it was Matt Bell shouted him out Bell. Yeah. And I’m like, damn, is this like, some kind of synchronicity? Synchronicity happening with me right now? Because I, I talked about that stuff as well. It’s, it’s, it’s challenging. But yeah, there’s a million things to be scared and feel trepidation about. But to be honest, when it comes to the actual book, I feel like I really gave my best wing and so on some levels. I’m cool. Like you and me, like about like, No, I can feel my body. I gave my best swing. And I know that I do sort of try. I’m for the fences. You know, I’m saying like, I try hard. And I, um, I think I only feel engaged by projects that feel a little bit beyond me, especially at that like Inception period. Yeah. And so I feel sort of some of that sometimes I feel whole and full. I feel okay, because like I did something that that five five years ago we talked about was impossible, then you know, right. It was impossible. I have no way I could have pulled it off then. And somehow tooth and nail to pandemic through a whole bunch of other sad stuff that happened. The we’re talking about it now. So that’s what I try to rest in. But yeah, I’d be scared as shit about a lot of shit.

Traci Thomas 17:59
When I finished the book, I The analogy I made for it because you know, it is ambitious. And like, I know you’ll appreciate this like it’s not perfect and no book or piece of work ever is but what I said is that I felt like you are the Simone Biles. Like the level of difficulty that you’re pulling off is just so much higher than the competition or whatever quote unquote, yet, like, even even a part where I was like, huh, I don’t know. I was like this question me even questioning this is like thrilling because I’m getting to think about something that I just have not been able to. So I think like you’re saying swinging for the fences is 1,000% I could feel that in reading the book. I was like this is that it’s not 10 out of 10 anymore. It’s like 11 out of 10 like we have to change the scoring scorecard. Yeah, it just I mean, it’s like it’s so rare that I read a novel and I like feel that energy from the author of like, this author is saying something or like doing something and it’s hard for them and it’s hard for me I’m like we’re in it together in a way so I just really

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 18:59
it’s very kind for me it hits it hits it hits like my personality types like exact desire because I am I do try like live wire acts you know, I do try like no no, no net beneath me things and it’s just it’s just how I feel engaged. And I mean obviously like someone buys it makes it extra nice because she’s like my goat in that sport. But everyone’s I just saw people being really mean to her on Twitter and on my you guys are getting nasty on this internet for no reason. Like, insane like I literally just a second ago. Like people would like be like, Oh, you could literally be mad about her hair. I don’t know what they’re mad about something. But anyway, always always. It’s like Dude, she’s flipping there four times and landed quads, quads. Four times. Yeah, but anyway, so it means a lot to me because like also I you know, people know that I am a student of George’s but also there’s a The people that are in that vein who are trying to do something really, really different. And what I feel, I guess most proud of is that I think that between my two books, I have a style, you know, I have like that’s observable that and like, if you didn’t like, you could see like, there’s, it’s hard to name it, because there’s a lot of things that include it, but part of it is like a formal structural and like sense of civil ambition.

Traci Thomas 20:25
Yeah, yeah. 1,000% sorry,

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 20:27
I kinda appreciate it very much.

Traci Thomas 20:29
Oh, God, I’m glad. I’m glad because I can feel it. Okay, this is where I was gonna start for real for real with the like, actual content of the book. I was going to talk to you about that first. But I got like that start. I’d like to start you guys did too. But now let’s talk about mass incarceration. Yeah, and all the like themes that are going on. So my big question, and I think it’s the big question of the book. And I want to know what you think about it not not the author who’s telling a story? Because I think those are two sort of different roles that you have, for sure. How do you feel about earning redemption through the same behavior? Because that’s the kind of the central question is can you earn redemption, as a person who is incarcerated for 25 years? Plus, most of them are murderers. In this book, a few are rapists. Some are both. I guess I shouldn’t call them that people who have committed murder people who have raped people, I don’t know, whatever, however you want to say it? Yeah. And they’re being asked to kill other people as a way to atone and appease the public as entertainment. And if in doing so, they are redeemed, they become beloved. And eventually, if they pull it off for three years, they get to become free. Yeah. So how do you feel about this idea of redemption through unchanged essentially behavior?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 21:48
It’s a really good question, because and I think if I even pull it back a little bit, like, what do I think about redemption should generally like do I believe it’s possible to atone? I hope so. And do I think that our infrastructures and like sort of societal like, push can be behind programs and infrastructures that can facilitate redemption? I do think that’s possible. In the case of Tang gang, do I think that doing the same thing can facilitate redemption? I think it’d be very challenging. And maybe like, how it actually counterproductive to the processes of redemption? Do I think sitting in a cage, you know, just like to take time, extrapolate from that way to I think doing nothing? Or also doing this harming people in the confines of weird cages in humans ecosystem? Do I think that is a space for people to be redeemed? That’s very difficult as well. Yeah. So for me, I think that, but I think that the asking you that question is really important, because I, I hope that it leads to a sort of that same kind of change. I’m sort of thinking through right now, which I haven’t thought of exactly the same way. But you saying it makes me think of it that way is like, okay, doing this violence? Does that call that redemptive? Probably not. And I think that in some, in some ways, the main characters are trying to find how they can grow beyond their worst moments, even in this context and space, that is totally antagonistic to any potential for redemption. Right. Right. Right. And so I think that chain gang, all stores, all stars, the sport within the books is a sort of analog or standing for our current carceral system. Can people be would find redemption in this bloody evil, violence, quote, unquote, rehabilitative space we have? Yeah, they actually can they do? Is it the best thing that we can do as society? Definitely not?

Traci Thomas 23:51
Right. Right. I mean, great question. I was thinking about that idea of like, earning redemption through the same repeated behaviors. And I know that you in the book, you mentioned some incredible abolitionists, friend of the podcast, Miriam kava, of course, comes up. And, you know, I think the question also is like, it’s not just that these people are being asked to kill, but it’s that they’re being asked to kill by the government for entertainment. And I think about that, when I think about the death penalty. I’m like, I don’t know, I don’t think that an eye for an eye is really that bad, necessarily, inherently, but I think it’s bad when the government asks for that, you know what I mean? And like the difference for me when I think of chain gang is like, if these people were like, just doing this for fun. I don’t know, I maybe wouldn’t hate it quite as much as I do. Because it’s the entertainment part of it. And the government part of it. I don’t, I don’t know. I mean, that’s the like, that’s the abolitionist part thinking for me. It’s like, Who’s, who’s making this happen? And for what end?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 24:52
And also and like what resources are being diverted into this that could be diverted to something totally else? And like the iPhone or the iPad, and the reason why Are we even used that tail? Is that everyone’s a blind? Like, that’s the whole point of it right? Right now everyone’s blind now reflect. Right? That’s like the whole like idea behind that. And so there is so like, what do we do with people who cause suffering? And it’s like for me. And I also think it’s for me, it’s important to like note that, I think in some ways writing checking off sites was me like trying to discover if I was an abolitionist, actually, I think I discover I think I thought I was and hoped I was. And then I found that I absolutely am. I found out I found that I was sort of horrified by the reality, actually, I think. I think I wouldn’t be abolitionists just off the lack of efficacy of like, how ineffective Yes, prison is just off of that, besides the myriad of actual moral, more ethical issues that I think it causes, right, and facilitates I think it’s also like, not effective doesn’t work. It’s effective advocacy is low. Yeah. So actually, it’s counterproductive. I think, there’s no better marker for someone going to prison than if they’ve already gone to prison before. Like, it’s terrible, let alone the we know, it’s super racist, statistically and proven to be we know, it’s the LGBTQIA plus community is particularly targeted. We know the trail communities particularly targeted. We know that women are particularly targeted, we know that most people incarcerated suffer from mental health problems, or addiction, or poverty, or probably combination of all those things. And the fact of prisons allows us to not give a fuck about those real actual issues, and gives us a place to do people instead of addressing the actual like, societal thing that we are all implicated in, which are these like big things like poverty and addiction and mental health. And so there’s, I mean, there’s more issues morally, that bother me. But yeah, I just I really, I mean, I kind of I believed it, but I wanted to feel like based on like facts, and then do some of the research I’ve done. Whereas whether it’s Kaaba, or Angela Davis, or Ruth was on Gilmore or going to like, the, the prison, they got it. And I’m Philly, the museum and thinking and knowing that we incarcerate more people per capita than anyone else here in the land of the free eye roll slash sarcastic, green. And yeah, it’s just it’s kind of a it doesn’t work. And also is it bookends our culture in death, just like the military does. And I think that’s a really bad. I feel like us being bordered on both sides by this internal external death machine is not the best way to exist.

Traci Thomas 27:52
I agree. We’re going to take a quick break. I’ve got more abolition questions on the other side. All right, we’re back. More abolition questions, as promised? Do you think that the current United States and carceral system or the world of your books carceral system is better for abolitionist causes? Like do you think it’s easier to be an abolitionist here? And now or do you think it would be easier to be an abolitionist in the world of your book? Yes or no?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 28:32
It’s a it’s an interesting question. I think that Hi, okay, so I like these questions they give me like, drill into like ideas. I think I’ve had I haven’t been able to talk about swinging all stars is like a Bloodsport, which is getting paid for money. A big conceit, besides the fact of that is the non hiding of the violence of the Americas and ministering. Yes, a big part. So a huge that’s a huge conceit, because a big part of the violence of these systems is keeping it from our eyes. Right. And so, I think that, in our world, a huge challenge is getting people to even buy in to the, the evil that’s happening right behind the comfort of these amenities we have. That’s like, right behind the door, people are being slaughtered over there was like, Wait, I got this nice couch, you know, right over there. And I think that part of my sort of general argument as an author is that as we’re enjoying these amenities, and these comforts these death, just like a wall fires inching closer and closer, we see it in these mass shootings that happen every week. Now, we see and these increase in police, extrajudicial executions of citizens and non citizens, we see it all over the place. And so, I think that it’s actually harder Hear, because it’s so non so it can be invisible. If you don’t care to look, you know, it’s getting harder to be invisible because of the great work of abolitionist and organizers and the Internet and phones or whatever. And people are there, it’s getting harder. But you can kind of, you know, don’t ask like here, no, you will see an evil kind of thing. I think in the water chain game, because the actual death is becoming so present, it’s perhaps a little bit easier. But I also think something, there’s a challenge that comes with like the sort of desensitization desensitize. That happens for those people where like, they fully embrace the idea that I think we’ve all implicitly agree to, which is that once you do a certain a certain kind of crime, it’s okay for any bad thing to happen to you. Right? It’s okay for you to be a slave, as we know, like slavery being explicitly protected by the Constitution. In the case of, quote unquote, criminals. So like, it, I think it’s hard to both ways I was, I would say, I guess, to be give grace to like, myself and others, and all of us, it’s harder here. Because of the invisibility.

Traci Thomas 31:06
I mean, that’s why I asked the question, because as I was reading the book, I was like, feels like it’d be easier, because you have something easy to hold up, like, these people are being killed right in front of us. But then I also think about in the world of the book, people who did not commit crimes that have them incarcerated for 25 years or more, or were not convicted of crimes for who had them crossword in front of us and more, they’re in prison, regular regular, like, we know it now. Right? Yeah. And they and you can make the choice to leave or not, you can make the choice to leave regular regular prison, if you if you qualify for chain gang or not, you could choose to stay and serve out your term. And so this there still is the invisibility of those other people who are incarcerated, right? Like those people still exist in the world,

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 31:53
right. They can they still exist is still being tortured, as all people who are in prison are being tortured. And some of them are like in like someone like character, 100 singer, he’s in Auburn, a reimagining of the Auburn system, which was a real system. And so he’s in a prison who has 24 hour silence and force all the time when we first meet him. And so he’s like, it’s like, the kind of like our current prison, but like, enhance some people and more like, as you said, like regular prisons, and they opt out. But they’re also getting tortured in new ways, which again, just because the way the world is, that’s what’s happens, people get they find new technologies, and people get tortured in new ways all the time. And so but I also think that, again, part of my sort of, I guess, the implicit argument of retagging is like, it is a consumer sport. But also, it’s almost hard not to hear about the extrajudicial murder of people at this point.

Traci Thomas 32:44
Right. Right. I don’t I I think this is a spoiler. So I don’t want to talk about the influence or too much. As you mentioned, the technology there’s this thing in the book called the influence or and I don’t want to say more about it, because reading the revelation of it was like, a really not enjoyable, but like, it was like, it’s a very, like, important part of the book for me as a reader. I was like, Whoa, so I don’t want to say too much about what it is and how it came to be. But kind of generally, how did that idea come to you? Yeah, and like and rolling it out in the way that you did?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 33:18
That’s the I get I appreciate. First of all, appreciate this for the consciousness. Because even I don’t I don’t know how much I mind. I think it’s fine.

Traci Thomas 33:28
I know you don’t mind probably but I mind because if someone ruin that part for me as a reader, I was like, What the fuck?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 33:33
No, I’m actually very, I’m very spoiler conscious. I’m gonna like do not like sports. So I appreciate it. But I think I can talk about I can say that, um, generally pain is a pain, physical mental is a big part of this book. Yeah. And how you administer that is it is a big part of the carceral system at large. But how you can How do you mean how do you can show human control is a lot of what prisons aren’t right. And so pain is a huge aspect of that. And we there’s all these versions of suffering that I think that people had there is not a gun to the head. So it’s like it’s great then whether it’s a taser or macing people are just breaking their bones and not stopping their hearts. And I think the influence or sort of technological combination of of that kind of thinking we have the technology we have these people we have to control it’s do whatever but also in terms of the rollout which again I appreciate you seeing it that way because it is that that’s why revision is so key for me because I might get all the way halfway through the book before I realize oh, wait, this is actually an important item. Or I might get I make it I make it 100 pages and before I even know a character like Simon Kratz is going to be in the book for sure. And then I’m like okay, this item is so important. Now I need to background about this item. That’s also like, to me, like, I really like seeing how my life gets folded into books. Even though I sort of resent the thing when people say when something bad happens to an author is like, Well, don’t worry, at least you can write about it. I resent that.

Traci Thomas 35:14
Never heard about, but that’s so fucked all the time.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 35:17
My dad’s dying like, well, at least you could write about it. No. But that said, sometimes they’re right, I guess. Because so my dad really through just before pandemic, my dad died up past like, a couple of months after the first book, like that summer. And but he was sick for a long time was kind of like it was like kind of the in participatory, like making Friday, Black happened at that moment. And he he did chemo. And one of the I mean, there’s all these different horrors of chemo that people know about. And one of them and that happened to him was like, really, really bad neuropathy. And if you don’t know, sort of like nerve pain, that can cause inflammation, a bunch of different things. Sometimes my splints can be whatever nerve stuff. And it can end up being that you’re just in pain all the time, which ended up being his situation. And I think I already was thinking about these different things that were trapped. And then I, I started and then because I’m trying to I’m also I was his proxy, I was the one I was like, you know, the main person, for whatever, I got really interested in trying to, like, heal this neuropathy. Basically, I had taken THC tea, and this is not the kind of bread to ever do that. Because this has got me in lawyer, you know, I mean, and all this type of stuff. But anyway, like I like I’m googling and trying to learn X my friends and getting like holistic stuff, going to a pain management, doctor, whatever. And so, in some ways, I had already thought of it, but I started really thinking about it after that happened. And so or not after that, because this is the years you don’t have to think about, it’s in your soul already. But by the time I got to the place where I needed this kind of item, I had a back and forth just like in my bones by this at that point. And so that’s part of the origin of of that stuff.

Traci Thomas 37:18
When you read the book, people, this will make so much more sense I have chosen a lot clearer earlier, you’re gonna have you’re gonna have to read the book now and then come back and listen to the episode again, because this will all make more sense for you. I promise. We’re protecting your reading enjoyment or your reading pleasure. Okay. In the book, you have footnotes. We talked about them briefly. Most of the footnotes are factual details about incarceration, incarcerated people. Some of the footnotes are world building elements, detail enhancing. This is a second book I’ve read this month that had footnotes in a novel. What is up, what’s the vibe, why you want them why and the other one totally different book. It was my government means to kill me by Rashid Newson. But it was also kind of, I think of your work. I don’t know. Do you think your work satirical?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 38:11
I’m sure it kinda is I guess.

Traci Thomas 38:14
Okay. So his book is similar. It’s like, it was kind of satirical, but he also had them in use them in a similar way. But he was writing about everyday right like, or he was reading about real public figures like Bayard reston’s in his book, Fred Trump is in his book, Larry Kramer is in his book. So he kind of was like putting footnotes in to let us know who these people were so used in a different way, but it was just like two books back to back that were fiction that had footnotes. So I’m just really curious about about why you wanted to have them.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 38:42
I for the this will be in the UK edition, the Waterstones UK edition of the book, I wrote, they had me read an essay about some aspect, and I think the footnotes are one of many, like, very noticeable things about the book. Yeah. And to be honest, I am was really, really, really really hesitant. But like, wait, because I don’t like footnotes in my life.

Traci Thomas 39:05
I love fun. I don’t like I don’t know, I’ve never had them in a novel before Rashid’s book and now yours.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 39:10
They’re an Oscar. Wow. And I saw them in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar. Wow. And they were dope, though. They were great. But I think for me, I mean, I want to do something different. You know, me and the writer just mentioned we were not in cahoots or whatever. So we’re on the similar time now. We’re just fill it fill in the vibes, I guess. Yeah, I think that because Okay, so the reason I’m against them, as I said or used to or am hesitant about them is that they inherently sort of disrupt the narrative dream thing. And I’m big on like, keeping you locked in into the stream. I feels like a core tenant of my whole shit or whatever. So just the act of Oh, moving my eye feels very disruptive and kind of like aggressive to me. But first, there’s so much stuff going on in this book that I want on it but also, I, I even though maybe would have been impossible anyways, I want to be like, categorically impossible to not understand this book as being about something. Yeah. I remember I was in PT I was doing my back was all messed up doing pandemic and still it’s kind of funny. So if you see me fidgeting, that’s why I’m. And I was talking about a squid game to one of the junior PTS who was like, helping me whatever that day. And he’s like, Yeah, I was, I was I was acting like how he thought about he was a younger kid. He’s like, 20 something. And he was basically like, it was cool. Like people getting kills or Bobo, they want money when Mike but like, you know, and basically, if you can believe that, I don’t know if you’ve seen a good game or not-

Traci Thomas 40:43
I haven’t, I was too scared.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 40:45
It’s good game is very, very, very overtly. And obviously, to me, sort of a commentary on like, our capitalistic consumer, capitalist culture, basically. And for him that was completely lost on him completely. Because he was so not enamored, but like, attracted to or engaged with the violence of it. Okay. And so for me, I wanted that to be impossible. This book, this book has pretty serious violence. And I’m most of myself pretty squeamish like, I if you can believe that. I

Traci Thomas 41:18
I don’t know. I read the chainsaw story. What was not, that’s not Finkelstein. Yeah,

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 41:25
yeah. But the actual chainsaw is off. Its off screen that story, the chain sighing rather-

Traci Thomas 41:31
In my mind, it was in my imagining.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 41:34
In the end, it’s pretty raw violence. And I mean, I got people eating people in that book, the first book, like, it’s very rough, but shows I like, like squid gamertag untied, I struggle, because it’s so brutal. But yeah, I want it to be impossible for someone to not see that this is a bout something this is like, connected to something else. Also, I wanted to I have this thing about like, in movies, where like, someone just gets killed. It’s like, whatever I wanted opportunity be like every person matters. Or they’re a person rather, at least they’re a person. And photos give me a chance to do that also gave me a chance to be like, this is like maybe more like a meta thing. But sometimes as like an artist, I feel somewhat constrained by like the linear nature of prose. The same reason why I think poets are like, so they’re so willing to employ the whitespace and movement of words, whereas I kind of don’t have that ability to, or especially like, say, like in music, if I was making so I can pan, there’s not there’s a certain linearity that exists in prose that sometimes I, I think formerly in terms of like that ambition, I want to push back against that in some way. And so the footnotes, that’s really the most exciting part for me, because there’s one footnote that’s my favorite, where something’s happened. And then something happens on there. And it’s like ding ding, and like, effect that has occurred, that I can’t talk about, because it would ruin it. But like, it’s just, I gotta give me a chance to do like I said, I hadn’t really seen other people do is like this easy version of saying it. But yeah.

Traci Thomas 43:05
You mentioned the violence and being kind of squeamish and a friend of mine asked me if this book was super violent, and I kind of had to pause because it is, but it isn’t, or if it is, isn’t it? That didn’t stick with me, the violence part? didn’t stick with me, it gets a little more violent towards the end. But in the beginning, I don’t know. I think you handle it with a lot of there’s not a question. I don’t know. I just think you handle it. Well.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 43:35
It is a violent book. So like-

Traci Thomas 43:37
It’s violent, like in theory, but it’s like you said like off screen sort of the we do see it? I don’t know, it doesn’t. It wasn’t like descriptions of the, like, the spear goes in. And like, I don’t know, it didn’t I wasn’t this-

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 43:51
It’s mostly not that there’s a couple of big set pieces, if you want to call them that, that do have like, then the knife was in his neck type shit.

Traci Thomas 43:59
Yeah, there was a few moments.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 44:01
But for me the reason and I get I appreciate that that’s the sentiment or feeling that you had, I think it’s because like you couldn’t tell me being screamers makes me like, follow. I follow through and caring about it. Because you know what even I actually get actually do I get caught up in the fun of the action of, of describing a physical, a physical thing precisely, even if it’s just running. It’s really hard to do on text, right, you know, so I like the challenge of describing choreography. She moved her arm back, she pulled she pulled it forward, and then now the hammer is pulling it forward because the momentum I like that type of stuff. But I care about even the first kid who gets murdered to the sector, I care about them. And the footnotes help show that the characters response to it helps show it the act of killing is not glorified meaning meaninglessly. So I think that I hope that that’s what comes through that. Even if there’s violence, there’s care. And for me, it’s like, because there is a version of like an aversion to that So I can Stupefy you to thinking everything is sweet. And it’s not. Right. And like because it is not. And so that’s kind of why for me, I have to employ the virus because I’m like talking about a very, very violent thing. Yeah. And I also understand how people’s minds are. And you have to sort of employ that energy, that visceral energy to almost sew it into the institution that’s doing it a lot of the books for me, it starts off with a big set piece that is pretty violent. Yeah. And I’m almost taking that energy. And I try to so do the book, sewing it into this institutional system that is actually administering it, because it’s a spectacle. But then it’s like, who was creating that spectacle? And sometimes we forget the things. So that’s what worried about this particular officers names like, No, this is the whole thing. And a lot of my job is like, making that link in distinguished like, like impossible to miss.

Traci Thomas 45:52
Right? We’re running out of time, but we cannot not talk about this part of the book. I’ve totally like saved it for the end, I guess. But one of the things that came to me, I don’t know if you actually wrote this because it’s in my notes, or if I just strapped extrapolated this, but there’s this vulnerability of the characters who are on the chain, whether it’s Loretta, third war, or hurricane stacks, or any, any of them, all of them, where there’s this vulnerability about like trying to carve out a life on the brink of death. And to me, like, as I was reading it, it was sort of a metaphor for like racism or sexism, right? That it’s like you’re trying to be alive, or even just like being alive in America with all the guns. It’s like you’re trying to be alive on the brink of like, the next terrible thing. But what you’ve given us is this great sort of love story, also in the middle of the book, and it’s between Is it a spoiler?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 46:47
I don’t think so. No, I say Right. In the beginning,

Traci Thomas 46:50
I think it’s really early. Between.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 46:52
Yeah, no, it’s not.

Traci Thomas 46:54
I don’t think it’s as far okay, I just wanted to make sure between their war and stacks and it’s to women. And I’m wondering sort of about you writing that as a man, did you have trepidation and also you also have a non binary character, which I think you, you know, kind of have in there every I love that everyone just uses the correct pronouns. And it’s not a thing and like, that was just really enjoyable. Like, there’s no like, Oh, oops, whatever. It’s just like, they’re non binary. They’re great. I don’t know how to pronounce that character’s name. I have to be on sigh sigh Okay. Okay, great. Thank you. I had a few versions in my head going but but I’m just curious about you writing about these sort of, like queer love stories, and these characters who maybe have different identities from you. And then also that tack on to the end of that is whenever I ask a question, go ahead.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 47:44
Yeah. So I guess I started with third word, this is gonna be a short story collection. And for some reason, I had like this woman in the eye of the arena, right from the beginning. But I think I why that was, Is this a certain way that a woman but in particular, black woman, is going to be both like beloved, but also hated, glorified, but consumed?

Traci Thomas 48:10
It’s giving Serena Williams I that’s who I was picturing as Yes.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 48:14
I was gonna say like, there’s some things that’s exactly what we’re gonna say. But like, there’s something Serena Williams understands that even LeBron James can understand. Where like, you’re totally dominant, but also, like disrespected, that by the same thing, you’re dominant. And there’s a certain kind of power we give a man who’s very dominant, it’s more like absolute and even. And even, I mean, of course, the brand deals with a whole bunch of bullshit too, but like, there’s a whole layer of it that I can perceive. Even though I never exactly feel it that I can see with someone like Serena or Simone Biles. Like we just said, yeah. So you get to deal with a whole bunch of shit that is just completely unfair, you’re completely dominated the best ever. And there’s all this other narrative about like something, right. And I think that’s always like, I feel like black women in particular, experienced that. And so that felt like important, I think, but I didn’t even have to think about that. Because it, it was from the beginning, I had that. In terms of stacks, and their partnership, I needed someone who like fully, I wanted the partnership to be truly equal. And I also knew that I wanted them to like try to install a change in their chain, or their team or whatever. And I needed someone who understood their war situation completely. I said, at first I was gonna have a be a man, actually, I think, but then it was like, it just felt such a false self felt so far now that he doesn’t understand our situation at all, even if even if he isn’t a link on the chain. And I because of where I felt like the book was going I needed someone to fully understand their war. And just if it was a man would have felt false to me, because like even they would have understood so much but they would have been like inherent like you don’t really get my situation and would have been it would have been true Right. So I think I needed that, like 100%. Like, they need to get each other thing. And then in terms of like, feeling comfortable with it. I don’t know, I think it was sort of I, what I’ve read a woman before, but in this case, it’s sort of like, these are sort of capable people in a really difficult situation. And I just tried to usually I try to think of like, well, but they have their own sort of dispositions that I’m aware of. And I create, I guess, and I just start thinking, like, what would a capable smart person in this situation do? And that’s, that’s usually what it is. And, um, and in terms of someone like, sorry, I’m like, they’re just in a tough situation, they just a person in a tough situation, they happen to be non binary, but it isn’t there. Like that’s not who they there’s they’re say, not like, non binary person, I guess, you know, yeah. And so they go, they’re very particular person. And that’s kind of how I thought about it, I guess I could be said for their word and stacks, and every character because there’s a whole way through-

Traci Thomas 51:03
There’s so many, and they’re so specific, though. I mean, I think that’s, I think that’s what you’re saying. It’s like the specificity of it for you is what got you kind of people to write them.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 51:12
Yeah, I just connected to the and I collected a lot of them. I mean, 31 stacks, in particular, my favorite kids have ever written. And I thought, well, you kind of know them, and they sort of tell you who they are pretty good.

Traci Thomas 51:23
Yeah. Have to ask you about the title. Not necessarily like why you picked it. I think it’s a great one, I have to ask you about having two dashes in the title. Did you ever think about that? Were you ever like maybe we shouldn’t? Maybe we should. I feel like titles are so weird. And like publishers have so many opinions. And it just really stood out to me like as I type it into my spreadsheets and stuff-

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 51:44
Double height double dash double hyphen. I think it’s my vengeance on the world. I know how to use hyphens. My name is RJ branya. Every time I go to a hotel, I have to guess if my when I’m trying to get Wi Fi if they put a hyphen or not. Because some people just don’t do that. And so now if you want to type the book, you have to put two hyphens because I put hyphens on everything on my my whole life. And now it’s my revenge story.

Traci Thomas 52:05
I love it. I think I asked you this last time, but I’m gonna ask you again. How do you like to write how many hours a day how often music or no snacks or no?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 52:17
Snacks when I’m really tapped in two hours or I mean I’m actually a chaotic all over the place person. I think I’ve been saying this appeared less so. But when I’m really tapped in though, and I was for like, probably like in pandemic, I had maybe a good year I’m almost doing this at least four or five days a week. Two hours or 1000 words whichever one comes first. Okay, but that comes after like I hopefully I’ve meditated gone to gone to the gym, meditated. Then I go start working. And then I eat after I work. So it’s like this, like, this like goal that’s like gonna free me. So I’m a big I like food a lot. And so I’m like, trying to get to that place. I’m not stuck and music. I can listen to music while I’m writing. But a lot of times I’ll listen to music on this. I’m very obsessive. I have a lot of obsessive tendencies. And like I like I can I can pace around and listen to song for like, no lie. Like, for hours. One song on loop is pretty bad sometimes. And yeah, it’s not the best thing but I think it helps me I don’t know what it’s doing. But it’s like trying to get I think acts like a flow state type of thing. And that’s, that’s, I feel like I failed my snap question that someone’s boring and whack and it’s gonna be boring and whack again,

Traci Thomas 53:27
I feel like you had a green tea place that you used to go to like,

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 53:30
I did have a tea spot in Syracuse-

Traci Thomas 53:33
I was gonna say Syracuse but then I was like, that’s you don’t remember that. But yes,

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 53:36
I do know that was great. Now I’m back in the Bronx though. There’s a spot called Semicolon that makes really good sandwiches ever in there. But I can’t say like I’ve done it consistently left, because a lot of the bookstore also. Yeah, but that’s not out here in New York.

Traci Thomas 53:49
Oh yeah, think yeah, it is. I think it’s in Chicago.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 53:53
And then I was hoping that like a lot of it, like the like the last latter half was like pandemic mode. So it was like, what you got in your crib is what you got in the crib.

Traci Thomas 54:03
Right? I see. And then I didn’t ask you this question because I added it to the to the group of questions since the last time I talked to you, but what’s the word you can never spell correctly on the first try?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 54:14

Traci Thomas 54:15
Oh, what a good one. No one’s ever said that before. But that’s an impossible silhouettes fucked up. Yeah. You mentioned this briefly at the beginning I wanted to I did have this written down to talk to you about later which is how has bringing this book into the world compared for you for Friday Black? I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of person you are. If you are, you know, feel that kind of pressure or not. If you feel the excitement of your audience waiting for this book, like what if you feel a difference between like marketing and PR for this book? Like what has it been like because Friday Black was hit, but it was your debut, so nobody knew you? I mean, some people knew but like the world didn’t know You know, I mean, you are a known quantity to your family and friends. But like someone’s kind of burst on this. I mean this, I feel like Friday black really like burst on the scene. And now here you are coming back. So what’s that been? Like?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 55:14
I feel like I’m trying to like find the concise way to answer because it’s like a, it’s a big question. Yeah. Because again, like, I sort of had to, if I think about, like, what’s changed from my job, and this book has been my best friend like confidant for seven years. And in that seven year period, like, pandemic happened, I finished MFA, I taught as a professor I stopped teaching as a professor at least like for right now, even though I’m gonna go back, hopefully, very soon, my father passed away. I’ve like, went from going into plane twice in my adult life to I got, I think I’m about to be golden Delta. Wow, me acceleration, um, silver, silver right now. But I think I think next time for sure. Next year, I’ll get gold. And like, my life has changed dramatically. In terms of so I feel the interest, I think it’s pretty clear that more people care. Just by like, a fact of something a lot of people found, you know, connected with Friday, Black booksellers, as they did before have really embraced this book. And they really embraced my first book. And I think they’re really why that person on your scene that you described happened. But some things are the same. My material life is the same. You know, I don’t feel I mean, that’s not true. Things are different now. But I do have a sense that I want, I care that people like, say my name, when people are like books, they like I see it. And I don’t have too much pressure. Because like I said before, I know I get my best wing. So it is what it is the balls in the air. I feel that feeling of like, I swung, I’m looking at the ball, maybe go foul, maybe we’ll go out the park. But I know I tried. I know I swung. I didn’t just watch the pitch you feel me? Right, right. And so I think in that sense, I feel a sense of acceptance of with whatever. But of course, you’re afraid because when you try something for a long time, you know, you hope that people receive it. Well, you hope that they care for it. It’s like you have this thing, like I said that it was just yours and now belongs to the world slowly yet surely. And so I hope it’s I hope people fuck with it. I think I’ve been. But yeah, it’s it’s a little scary, because there is a big difference. But I actually can’t tell because the first time it was so new, like I think going from like zero followers to 1000 followers feels more intense than going from I don’t know how many followers I have, but like, say six to 8000, or I don’t know, whatever. I think that the first time felt more intense. There was times when my first book where something good would happen. And I would be like, in a fetal position in my apartment and Syracuse could have just like literally like anxiety, like, found, you know, now I think I’m getting a little bit better, letting she roll off my back. And being like, that’s a great thing that happen. But let’s keep going. And so it’s more there’s more that can perceive this more. I’m very grateful for that. I think my publicist and everybody at Pantheon I hope is excited. I don’t I don’t I don’t know though. I never asked I’ve never asked to this day, I don’t know how many Friday Black Books for the black I sold because that stuff is all. It’s all kind of tougher. I think it’s not good for my mental health. So anyways, that’s honestly it’s a very long answer. But what I’m trying to say is it’s been dope, I’m super grateful. It’s scary, too. But that’s how life goes.

Traci Thomas 58:29
You didn’t ask but I think it’s a homerun. I don’t think it’s a foul ball. I think that people can when I when I read the book when I as soon as I finished I was like people are gonna fucking freak. I cannot wait to talk about this with people. I just think there’s so much in it to talk about like, I think it’s gonna be one of those books where people are like, you have to get it to so we can discuss like there’s just so much there. For people who have read chaingun all stars. What are some other books you would recommend to them that are in conversation with it?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 58:59
We do this til we free us. Are prisons obsolete. How the word is passed. I’m trying to think of it not not an actual fiction, one. Mars room.

Traci Thomas 59:14
Oh, we did that on this book club in the first year also

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 59:17
Slaughterhouse Five in terms of like, not being afraid to move into the weird craziness. But also it’s about something real.

That’s what comes off the top of my head.

Traci Thomas 59:33
That’s good. That’s good. What do you hope people will keep in mind as they read this book,

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 59:39
that we are the ones who make the world and that can be anything? Hmm.

Traci Thomas 59:43
Okay, last question. If you could have one person dead or alive read this book. Who would you want it to be?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 59:49
It’s gonna be obvious from or maybe a sad one. I would I would want my dad to read it.

Traci Thomas 59:54
Yeah, yeah. Okay, everyone, this is not a call my IG branya rent of the pod back again, five years later, almost changing all stars. It’s out in the world. You can get it wherever you get your books, who reads the audio?

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 1:00:10
There’s four people, it’s a good one

Traci Thomas 1:00:12
A cast. Okay. I haven’t listened to it.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 1:00:19
It’s pretty fire.

Traci Thomas 1:00:21
I’m gonna have to listen to it, get it wherever you get your books. I promise you listeners, people are going to be talking about this book if you want to be part of the conversation about a buzzy book this year. This is the one I have heard many people who I trust and love, love this book. I loved this book. So I don’t know. I don’t know how else to endorse it. But check it out. It’s so good. I’m so excited about it. Not thank you so much for being here.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 1:00:44
Thank you. Congratulations again. Five years looking at us again. I’m so grateful.

Traci Thomas 1:00:48
Look at us. It’s like the hot wings meme.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 1:00:51
I feel like you said did you say that in our last interview too? I feel like you said it for some reason.

Traci Thomas 1:00:56
I might have. I did. It’s my only bit.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah 1:00:59
I might be cappin’ but that just locked a memory for me.

Traci Thomas 1:01:02
Ok, well it’s possible. Anyways, this was so great. Thank you and everyone else we will see you in The Stacks.

All right. Alright, y’all. That does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you again to Nana for being our guest. I’d also like to say a quick thank you to Josie Kals for helping to make this conversation possible. Don’t forget our May book club pick is this boy we made a memoir of motherhood genetics and facing the unknown by Taylor Harris. Nicole Chang will be our guest for that discussion on May 31. If you love the show, and you want inside access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks pack. And make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you’re listening through Apple podcast be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram, and TikTok and at thestackspod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stackspodcast.com. This episode of The Stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree, a graphic designer is Robin McCreight. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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