‘Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology’ by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Here is another story that describes terrible things and outlandish things and makes all these things rise out of the same world. In this case it’s a police shooting of two young men outside a ComicCon. I’ll be honest: I read the book that this is the title story of in order to be polite; I was teaching at the same weekend festival as Nafissa Thompson-Spires and sometimes I lie and claim to have read books, but for some reason I decided this time to proceed on the up and up. The whole book knocked me out but the title story is one I have taught over and over: it’s a story that’s self-aware but also heartfelt; generous but also ruthless. Time folds over itself and the narration is complicated, and funny, and entirely itself, and heartbreaking: you never stop seeing the chalk outlines of the title. 

First published in Story Quarterly 49, 2016. Collected in Heads of the Coloured People, Simon & Schuster/Chatto & Windus, 2018. You can read an extract of the story on the Fawcett Society website, here

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