Training School for Negro Girls
Training School for Negro Girls
The stories in this debut collection shatter monolithic assumptions of black womanhood.
In her debut short story collection, Camille Acker unleashes the irony and tragic comedy of respectability onto a wide-ranging cast of characters, all of whom call Washington, DC, home. A "woke" millennial tries to fight gentrification, only to learn she's part of the problem; a grade school teacher dreams of a better DC, only to take out her frustrations on her students; and a young piano player wins a competition, only to learn the prize is worthless.
Ultimately, they are confronted with the fact that respectability does not equal freedom. Instead, they must learn to trust their own conflicted judgment and fight to create their own sense of space and self.
“An exciting literary achievement by a significant emerging talent. This flawlessly executed work reinvigorates the short fiction genre.” —BUST
"A timely, welcome book." —The Millions
“These stories pulse with vitality as ordinary people look for a future in a world that doesn’t expect them to have one. . . . A striking cross-section view of the capital’s corners, these stories contain, and sometimes restrain, hope; in fleeting glimpses, they also reveal the beginning of a way out.” —Foreword Reviews
"Acker shows that the lives of black girls and women are vast and varied, pushing back on the monolithic ways they are often portrayed." —Kirkus Reviews
“Grappling with ideas like gentrification and social-climbing through the fine-tuned eyes of her characters, Acker never oversimplifies or neatens the complexities that make up life.”—Publishers Weekly
“Beautifully rendered characters struggle to find a sense of themselves in their complex lives.”—Booklist
“It's hard to believe this brilliant collection of stories is a debut, so beautifully does Camille Acker navigate difficult fictional terrain and complicated themes, including issues like gentrification, race, and 'respectability' politics.”—Nylon
“By reading this moving, eye-opening collection of stories, I feel as if I have heard and understood the author’s important and very personal revelations. Please, Camille Acker, don’t stop. I want to hear everything you have to say.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
“Equal parts funny, poignant, stirring and heartbreaking. . . . This book is our collective coming-of-age story—and it’s about time. The variety of characters and experiences makes Training School required reading for your favorite Black girl.” —Essence
“Acker navigates her characters’ lives with humor, heart, and grace. I loved these stories.” —Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
"Camille Acker channels voices and visions like a literary medium. Captivating, insightful, this is a debut of an already accomplished author. Through richly imagined profiles, Training School for Negro Girls creates a world on the page.” —Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day
“The lives of the girls and women featured in these stories are rendered with tremendous warmth, humor, and care. Camille Acker has written pages that are saturated with the stuff of black life in Washington, DC: the cadences, the music, the aspirations, the trouble, the disappointments, the inventiveness, and the laughter. Training School for Negro Girls is a wonderful debut.” —Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
“A vivid, engaging book and a necessary new voice.” —Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown
“Camille Acker’s compelling stories vibrate with fresh portrayals, vivid prose, and real attitude. Training School for Negro Girls is both a rich compilation of storytelling and a deft guide for living; as you witness these characters learn their heartbreaking lessons, you too might never be the same.” —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers
"A devastating and subtle portrayal of what it is to be black and female in America: the ache, the rage, the sorrow, the unending will to rise." —Shobha Rao, author of Girls Burn Brighter
“Each page of Training School for Negro Girls stands as a wise testament to possibility, laying out the means by which we can all weather the worst circumstances and survive the most perilous times. A stunning achievement.” —Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank
Interested in reading this book with a group? Download group discussion questions for Training School for Negro Girls here!