Twentysomething and restless, Skye flits between cities and stagnant relationships until she meets Scottie, a disarming and disheveled British traveler, and Pieces, an enigmatic artist living in New York. The three recognize each other as kindred spirits—Black, punk, whimsical, revolutionary—and fall in together, leading Skye on an unlikely adventure across the Atlantic. They live a glorious, subterranean existence in 1990s London: making multimedia art, throwing drug-fueled parties, and eking out a living by busking in Tube stations, until their existence is jeopardized by the rise of CCTV and policing.
In fluid and unrelenting prose, Jamika Ajalon's debut novel explores youth, poetry, and what it means to come terms with queerness. Skye Papers is an imaginative, episodic group portrait of a transatlantic art scene spearheaded by people of color—and of the fraught, dystopian reality of increasing state surveillance.
“Set in the street scenes of nineties-era New York City and London, Skye Papers merges race and class, queerness and anarchy, all while keeping a Philip K. Dick–ensian eye on the entities with the power to monitor and control our freedoms. Too real to be sci-fi, with a gritty imagination, Jamika Ajalon’s debut marks the arrival of a formidable new voice, unafraid to bring the creepy quotidian to fantastical conclusions.” —Michelle Tea, author of Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms
"There is a new literature being born: it is Black and it is queer, it vibrates between punk and soul, it has wanderlust, it invents its own form of freedom with characters both lost and found. Jamika Ajalon’s debut novel leads this surge. Skye Papers is a story of becoming—part love story, part artistic path, coming of age on the streets of London drug fueled, part surveillance-state dystopia—from a wholly unique and necessary new voice.” —Pamela Sneed, author of Funeral Diva
“Jamika Ajalon’s Skye Papers is required reading! A visceral narrative of artists of color in a transatlantic nineties art scene, this novel bursts forth with visionary aim.” —Fork Burke, author of Licking Glass
“Jamika Ajalon has woven an intense psychological journey through the paradoxical life of Skye, whose poetry-drenched narrative leads us on an unpredictable odyssey beyond the limits of imagination. Along with Skye’s psychedelic comrades, readers navigate the silenced worlds of the early 1990s international underground art squat cultures of raving mad artists reveling in anti-fashions. From St. Louis, Chicago, New York, London, Amsterdam, and beyond, we are granted rare access into the vibrant minds and often psychedelic/transcendental vaults of three artists who knew too much—ruthlessly hunting for meaning in themselves, in their ancestry, and in their environment with the rise of surveillance tech and reality TV. Skye Papers is not only one of the most addictive reads of this year, it’s a must reread in order to unlock the living labyrinths of loving madly, performing badly, and most importantly, surviving oneself while daring to risk everything to experience a creative life beyond the fringes of one’s own expectations and limitations.” —Malik Ameer Crumpler, poet, editor, and rapper