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

Locked Gray / Linked Blue by Kem Joy Ukwu

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

About Kem Joy Ukwu


Kem Joy Ukwu’s fiction has appeared in PANK, BLACKBERRY: a magazine, Carve, TINGE, Blue Lake Review, Jabberwock Review, Auburn Avenue, The Brooklyn Quarterly and Day One. Her short story collection manuscript, Locked Gray / Linked Blue, was named as a finalist for the 2016 New American Fiction Prize and is forthcoming from Brain Mill Press. Born and raised in the Bronx, she currently lives in New Jersey with her husband. More of her work can be found at

Schedule of Appearances & Events


Line Break Reading Series, Astoria, NY, November 14, 2017

Syllable Reading Series, Hartford, CT, November 5, 2017

Writers & Words Reading Series, Baltimore, MD, December 12, 2017

Franklin Electric Reading Series, Brooklyn, NY, January 11, 2018

Renegade Reading Series, Brooklyn, NY, January 19, 2018

Philly Home Brew Reading Series, Philadelphia, PA, January 27, 2018

Live Lit, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, January 31, 2018

Watchung Booksellers, Launch Event for Locked Gray / Linked Blue, Montclair, NJ, February 2018

Volume Reading Series, Hudson, NY, March 10, 2018

Montclair Literary Festival, Montclair, NJ, March 16-18, 2018

Writing from the Margins Institute, Bloomfield College, March 22, 2018

Literary Salon at Easton’s Nook, Newark, NJ, March 24, 2018

Sweet Reads Reading Series, Brooklyn, NY, Spring 2018

Halfway There Reading Series, Montclair, New Jersey, April 23, 2018

Chasing Windmills Reading Series, Philadelphia, PA, May 2018

Ditmas Lit Reading Series, Brooklyn, NY, November 14, 2018

Words @ Weeksville Reading Series, November 28, 2018

Franklin Park Reading Series, Annual Short Fiction Night, January 14, 2019

Newburyport Literary Festival, Newburyport, MA, April 26-27, 2019

YeahYouWrite Reading Series, Manhattan, April 2019







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