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{ "item_title" : "Chain Gang All Stars", "item_author" : [" Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah "], "item_description" : "A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR - FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION - A READ WITH JENNA BOOK CLUB PICK - NATIONAL BESTSELLER - Two top women gladiators fight for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America's own in this explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Friday Black - LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCEThis book is so good. Brutal subject matter, beautiful writing. This one is from the heart. --Stephen KingA Best Book of the Year: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Elle, Esquire, Chicago Tribune, Lit Hub, Kirkus Reviews Like Orwell's 1984 and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, 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. --The Washington Post She felt their eyes, all those executioners...Loretta Thurwar and Hamara Hurricane Staxxx Stacker are the stars of the Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly popular, highly controversial profit-raising program in America's increasingly dominant private prison industry. It's the return of the gladiators, and prisoners are com­peting for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death matches before packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thur­war and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, Thurwar considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games. But CAPE's corporate own­ers will stop at nothing to protect their status quo, and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar's path have devastating consequences. Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors, to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system's unholy alli­ance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a new and necessary American voice (Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review).", "item_img_path" : "https://covers3.booksamillion.com/covers/bam/0/59/331/733/0593317335_b.jpg", "price_data" : { "retail_price" : "27.00", "online_price" : "23.75", "our_price" : "23.75", "club_price" : "23.75", "savings_pct" : "12", "savings_amt" : "3.25", "club_savings_pct" : "12", "club_savings_amt" : "3.25", "discount_pct" : "10", "store_price" : "27.00" } }
Chain Gang All Stars|Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Chain Gang All Stars
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Overview

A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR - FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION - A READ WITH JENNA BOOK CLUB PICK - NATIONAL BESTSELLER - Two top women gladiators fight for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America's own in this explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Friday Black - LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE"This book is so good. Brutal subject matter, beautiful writing. This one is from the heart." --Stephen King

A Best Book of the Year: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Elle, Esquire, Chicago Tribune, Lit Hub, Kirkus Reviews "Like Orwell's 1984 and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, 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." --The Washington Post She felt their eyes, all those executioners...Loretta Thurwar and Hamara "Hurricane Staxxx" Stacker are the stars of the Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly popular, highly controversial profit-raising program in America's increasingly dominant private prison industry. It's the return of the gladiators, and prisoners are com­peting for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death matches before packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thur­war and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, Thurwar considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games. But CAPE's corporate own­ers will stop at nothing to protect their status quo, and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar's path have devastating consequences. Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors, to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system's unholy alli­ance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a "new and necessary American voice" (Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review).

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780593317334
  • ISBN-10: 0593317335
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish Date: May 2023
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds
  • Page Count: 384

Related Categories

Back in the 1980s, it was all “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” These days, not so much, with dystopian stories like The Hunger Games doing a much better job to capture the zeitgeist. Speaking of capturing, that’s one enterprise in which the United States still excels; about one out of every five incarcerated people worldwide occupy a jail cell here in America.

In his first novel, Chain-Gang All-Stars, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah mashes up “Orange Is the New Black,” The Running Man, Gladiator and mixed martial arts into a brutal prognostication of what could be next year’s worst “reality” show. It works like this: Prisoners whose sentences exceed 25 years are offered shots at freedom in exchange for three-year tours of duty as televised, weapon-wielding warriors. Much like in professional wrestling, there are storylines and factions and fan favorites, but “smackdown” in this ring means that only one “athlete” gets to leave alive.

Competing for-profit prison corporations provide teams called “chains” whose “links” vie against one another, either singly or in doubles matches. To ramp up the drama, individual links in a chain may occasionally turn on one another—many of them are murderers, after all—so the likelihood of living through the three-year tour is vanishingly small. 

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah author photo
“We are all chaotic systems, like the weather, and any particular offering an artist presents is one of many possible storms.” Read our full essay from author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

The story centers on a pair of warriors, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker, who are members of the same chain, occasional doubles partners and lovers. While they are both successful at their current day job—being killing machines—Adjei-Brenyah has imbued them with a notable degree of tenderness. They’re aware that most of the links are going to be “freed” via slaughter in the ring, and their immediate survival requires them to focus their violence on their opponents rather than toward each other. A chain, after all, is only as strong as its weakest link. 

The subtext here punches through like Anderson “The Spider” Silva delivering a knockout blow: The incarceration-industrial complex, hyped up on the steroid of private capital, encourages systematic racism and a rejection of any possibility of rehabilitation. So in Adjei-Brenyah’s brave new world, he recalls yet another notion perfectly articulated during the ’80s: “The Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.”

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