Joe Okonkwo’s debut novel, Jazz Moon, was a passionate, thriving, and original novel about love and race, set against the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance and glittering Jazz Age Paris. The eclectic stories in this new collection offer a similar kind of visceral magic that is thrumming with raw grit and contemporary twists.
A young Black woman defies her community, and a gay man’s concept of beauty is rocked. A ménage à trois becomes uncomfortable for unexpected reasons, and a 16-year-old embarks upon a dangerous seduction that could destroy numerous lives. An unemployed, pot-smoking technophobe stumbles into a job that blows up his resistance to change, and two opera-loving Black men, opposites in every way, launch into a contentious love affair.
Okonkwo’s brilliant, viscerally drawn characters in Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck vibrate with energy and raw power as they brave (and resist) the damaging emotional effects of negative body image and loneliness, black-on-black racism, the changing nature of romantic relationships, and the complications of living in a relentlessly digital world.