Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Nafissa Thompson-Spires  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: , in

Illinois Connection

Thompson-Spires lives in Champaign. She is an Assistant Professor of English, African American Studies, and Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Biographical and Professional Information

Nafissa Thompson-Spires grew up in Rialto, California. She earned a doctorate in English from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois. Her work has appeared in Story Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, and The Feminist Wire, among other publications. She was a 2016 fellow of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop.


Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction, Heads of the Colored People: Stories

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Selected Titles At Your Library

Heads of the colored people :
ISBN: 1501167995. OCLC Number: 989963508

. .

Calling to mind the best works of Paul Beatty and Junot Diaz, this collection of moving, timely, and darkly funny stories examines the concept of black identity in this so-called post-racial era. 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--