“This is an extraordinary collection of stories. Debut author Kem Joy Ukwu is already a master at conveying—with admirable elegance—the small and large emotions, and the tensions, the moments of generosity, of betrayal, and of hope that define the human experience. This is sure to be the beginning of a long and important career, and I cannot wait to read what comes next.”
—Robin Black, author of Life Drawing and If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
A finalist for the New American Fiction Prize, this glinting and razor-sharp collection of linked short stories draws power from Ukwu’s crystalline characterization and a voice that is as singular as a champion slam-poet’s.
Family dynamics, bad romance, work, and money haunt the New Yorkers in these stories as they nevertheless triumph. A sister is faced with the individual, human reality of family separation; a daughter navigates her difficult mother’s wedding-day crisis; an unexpected proposal from a neighbor represents hope and resignation in equal measure.
These stories invite readers into the most private of hearts with clear, forceful, and memorable prose. Ukwu wields the constraints of the short story as if she had invented them expressly to connect us to each other.
“Kem Joy Ukwu writes of faith and families, of mercy, of birth and death. She examines the cool, dark shadows of regret and the knife of obligation, holds who and how we are supposed to be up against who we actually are. Ukwu is a jewel of a writer—graceful, sparkling.”
—Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Every Kiss a War and Whiskey & Ribbons