Thursday, April 25, 2019

Why You Should Read a Short Story Collection | Heads of the Colored People

I'm sitting on a Southeastern train, heading to our Kent office for work. I am so bloody late, but the good news is I've just finished reading, Fatima the Biloquist, whose protagonist, a young lady called Fatima from a well to do family, is taken through a make-shift ghetto finishing school of sorts by her more 'culturally aware' bestie Violet, who is determined to make her 'more black'. As uncomfortable as this 'molding process' was to read, as someone who used to be often referred to as a 'coconut', I actually identified with Fatima's frustration.

So is Fatima the Biloquist a book? No. Not exactly. It's a short story, part of a collection of stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires called Heads of the Colored People.  Frankly, this is the beauty of short story collections - the freedom it gives to readers to pick up and put down again at a whim. And if it's as good as Thompson-Spires' debut, there is every reason to keep reading. Heads of the Colored People, through its different styles of storytelling, will give you a snapshot of the varied lives of black people in America.

Take for example, The Necessary Changes Have Been Made, an amusing story about Randolph, an employee at a university who gets locked into a passive-aggressive battle with his office mate, Isabella over whether the office lights should stay on or off. Over the course of months, the lights are flicked on and off at whim as each character strives to win the war over the office lights.

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Or my favourite so far, Belle Lettres, a succession of letters sent between two mothers, whose warring daughters attend the same primary school. As each mother attempts to explain why it is not her child's fault for the disruption happening in the classroom, the letters become increasingly nasty in tone until nice-nasty erupts into all-out belligerent.

What I love about Heads of the Colored People, is the way it bypasses lazy stereotypes in favour of storylines which depict black people in affluence, well-spoken black people, well to do black people. Their stories are varied. Aside from that, Nafissa Thompson-Spires has a way of narrating one thing whilst conveying a more insidious message just beneath the surface.

Will you try a short story collection?

Why you should read a short story collection
So why should you read Heads of the Colored People or something similar?
  • A whole story can be easily read in one sitting. The fact that the stories are shorter in length means their great for people with a short attention span or who are just too busy to read for long periods. 
  • It allows the reader to experience the different writing styles of one author before passing any judgment 
  • It is a great money saver. What you pay for six to ten stories in one book is more economical than buying six to ten books. 
  • You don't have to read it all. You can always take a break and come back to it. Imagine having that kind of flexibility!
  • Sorry to say this, but they tend to be more entertaining. The writer is under pressure to hook the reader with fewer words, so each word, sentence, and paragraph has to make an impact.  
I hope you've enjoyed this review and are persuaded to try a short story collection - especially Heads of the Colored People. 

What did you last read?



  1. Sounds like a good read sis. I'm one of those people who's attention span isn't too great, so I prefer short stories. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks for reading Missy. This book would be perfect for you!

  2. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year!I'll make sure to bookmark it and return to peruse a greater amount of your helpful information.

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