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Article  •  4 May 2023


Get ready for the debut novel that will leave you speechless

‘Chain-Gang All-Stars’ is shaping up to be one of the buzziest debuts of 2023. Learn more about it and see some of the rave reviews for Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s first novel.

Prepare yourselves readers.

A new novel is coming, and it’s truly going to blow you away. Chain-Gang All-Stars is one of those books that will capture you from page one. Once you pick it up, you’ll be sneaking reading moments into your day and staying up past lights out to read more. It’s one of those books that will make you forget  ‘the real world’ as you slip into its pages, but the messages and morals will resonate long after you’ve turned the last page.

While Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is already a renowned writer, this is his first novel – and what a debut it is!

Set in an eerily familiar dystopian society, the book revolves around a highly controversial program in which American prisoners participate in gladiatorial battles for freedom. Chain-Gang All-Stars has already received wide applause with early reviews praising Adjei-Brenyah’s writing.

‘Through this brutal, fight-scene-studded story, the author delivers insightful critiques of the prison-industrial complex, capitalism, and the ways in which Hollywood and celebrity culture exploit Black talent,’ said Publishers Weekly. ‘Both the political allegory and the edge-of-your-seat action work beautifully. Readers will be wowed.’

In the lead-up to the book’s publication,  Adjei-Brenyah has also been profiled in Vulture and named one of the ‘10 African Writers to Read This Year’ by Oprah Daily.

Vintage, the book’s publisher and an imprint of Penguin Random House, even selected Chain-Gang All-Stars for the annual Kingston Animation Prize, held in partnership with Kingston University in the UK. Undergraduate animation students submitted animations inspired by the book, and if the reviews aren’t enough to entice you to pick up a copy, the amazing videos will.

See the videos

Praise for Chain-Gang All-Stars

  • ‘Like Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Adjei-Brenyah’s book presents a dystopian vision so upsetting and illuminating that it should permanently shift our understanding of who we are and what we’re capable of doing . . .’ -- The Washington Post
  • A defiant, awe-inspiring novel that will be read, studied and celebrated for generations, Chain-Gang All-Stars leads with love. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah writes with stunning compassion and moral clarity as he interrogates every facet of our carceral world and the American spectacle of violence, never losing sight of the human cost of systemic injustice. Readers will be forever changed by this book.’ – Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
  • ‘Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is one of the most exciting young writers in America. His work is urgent, engaging, wildly entertaining, formally bold and politically electrifying. Read one page, any page, and you'll see what I mean.’ – George Saunders
  • ‘Vividly imaginative and startling in its clarity of intent . . . A sort of The Hunger Gamesmeets Gladiator meets WWE meets the modern private prison system.’ – Elle
  • ‘A brutal, heart-wrenching story that feels so close to reality...A tale of survival and resistance in an unfair prison system.’ – Cosmopolitan
  • ‘[A] blazing debut novel...A damning indictment of mass incarceration, systemic racism, and the grotesqueries of unfettered American capitalism, Chain-Gang All-Stars is also a breathless dystopian thriller.’ – Lit Hub

Feature Title

Chain-Gang All-Stars
Welcome to a world where, livestreamed to millions, prisoners fight like gladiators for the ultimate prize: their freedom.
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