Adam Smyer

Books by Adam Smyer

You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor

A bitingly humorous compendium of the absurd subtle racism of the American workplace.
Kirkus Reviews, July 14, 2020
Each entry is designed to strip away the hypocrisy and half-truths of these cultural exchanges by laughing at them. Smyer’s hilarious sampler offers astute observations on race and culture.
Publishers Weekly, June 15, 2020
It is a fast, scathingly funny, profane, illuminating, punch-packing guide to racial etiquette. It's like Dave Chappelle and Emily Post had a baby.
Susan Jane Gilman, author of Donna Has Left the Building


Shortlisted for the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Adam Smyer’s Knucklehead is so smart, so wildly, uncategorizably original, such a flat-out revelation from page to page, you almost forget how savagely funny and fearless the author actually is. Knucklehead is the kind of book you don’t just admire, it’s the kind that makes you want to buy in bulk and jam into the hands of loved ones and strangers as you scream in their faces, ‘Read this or remain clueless!‘ In a feat of fierce literary magic, the author’s 1990s Bay Area and NYC peel back the curtain on our own Trump-stained era, exposing, in loving detail, the fine line between salvation and self-destruction that defines the times. No one who reads Knucklehead will ever think the same about relationships, about family, about race, class, or the business of remaining sane—and human—in the world of crazy-making, soul-defiling choices we now inhabit. I straight-up loved this book.
—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
From page one, Knucklehead is a literary punch in the face. Adam Smyer’s exploration of rage is unflinching, brave, and absolutely brilliant. There’s so much energy in this debut you could put it in your tank and drive on it.
—Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day
Adam Smyer is an incendiary new voice who announces himself with the force of a Category 5 hurricane. A staggering, unforgettable debut.
—Arthur Nersesian, author of The Fuck-Up
While loss and loneliness are at its core, “Knucklehead” is a mordantly funny book.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 8, 2018
Here is a list of things you’ll need to read this book: ample space for stretching out the side stitches you’ll get from laughter; half a box of tissues for the most gripping and harrowing dramas at the heart of the novel; a fresh stress ball for the tense situations the protagonist finds himself in (both of his own doing and not); and just a bit of that space in your heart to see people, in all their complexity, trying to do their best.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 11, 2018
This book is bold in how it treats the reader as an insider to the reality of American blackness. It can be, in turns, lyrically poignant, cynical, hilarious, and infuriating.
Foreword Reviews, January/February 2018 (starred review)
While not strictly a crime novel, Smyer’s debut Knucklehead does contain a whole lot of guns, violence, and rage, as well as plenty of love and sadness. A black lawyer in the late 80s through the mid-90s deals with micro and macro aggressions from a society determined to treat him as a criminal. Also, there are cats. Lots of cats.
Literary Hub, The Most Anticipated Crime, Mystery, and Thriller Titles of 2018, January 11, 2018

Knucklehead is available from many online and local stores, including the following:

© 2021 Adam Smyer