An edgy, bitingly funny debut about a queer, half-Nigerian college sophomore who, enraged and exhausted by the racism at her elite college, is determined to reveal the truth about The Unfortunates—the unlucky subset of Black undergrads who Just. Keep. Disappearing.
Sahara is Not Okay. Entering her sophomore year, she already feels like a failure: her body is too much, her love life is nonexistent, she’s not Nigerian enough for her family, her grades are subpar, and, well, the few Black classmates she has are vanishing—or dying. Sahara herself is close to giving up: depression has been her longtime “Life Partner." She believes that this narrative—taking the form of an irreverent, no-holds-barred “thesis” addressed to the powerful University Committee that will judge her—may be her last chance to document the Unfortunates' experience before she joins their ranks...But maybe, just maybe, she and her complex community of BIPOC women aren't ready to go out without a fight.
J K CHUKWU is a writer and visual artist from the Midwest. She holds an MFA in literary arts from Brown University and was a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, DIAGRAM, and TAYO Literary Magazine.
A Bustle "Most Anticipated Book of Winter 2023" * A Good Morning America "February Buzz Pick" * An Autostraddle "54 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Out Winter 2023" * A The Root "February 2023 Books by Black Authors We Can't Wait to Read" * An Ebony "Required Reading: 11 Black Authors To Get Into February 2023" * An Open Country Mag "Anticipated Book of 2023"
“Chukwu meticulously and brilliantly balances tough topics like depression with biting comedy, crafting a narrative about a young woman trying to survive and help others do the same.” — Shondaland
“The Unfortunates is a powerful call to arms by a promising young writer who is not afraid to take risks, and for that we are very fortunate indeed.” — Bookpage
"[A] playful, powerful debut. . . . Speaking to the pressure Black people often feel to stifle their feelings in predominantly white spaces. . . . A poignant reminder of how tight a hold mental illness can have." — Zakiya Dalila Harris, The New York Times Book Review
"Required reading. . . . What do you do when your fellow Black co-eds are disappearing, and you fear you’re next? Sahara, a queer, half-Nigerian student at an elite college, pens her opus, a no-holds-barred thesis to the racist institution that has stolen a part of her soul, but she and her community of BIPOC women won’t give up without a fight." — Ebony
A "Top Ten Books We Can't Wait to Read in February" Pick — PureWow
“Chukwu has written an extraordinary coming-of-age novel, with a fascinating protagonist and a tone that is just right for her material. The book’s dark atmosphere is enhanced by the presence of the author's own black-and-white illustrations. The result is a tour de force.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Formidable . . . powerful. This blistering anthem brims with rage and hope.” — Publishers Weekly
“Exciting in form; powerful in content.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A playful, powerful debut novel” — New York Times Book Review