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Skye Papers

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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. T 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.


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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. T 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.

35 review for Skye Papers

  1. 5 out of 5

    afrobookricua

    “I would just stare at the sky. For a long time, it seemed nothing happened, except in the worlds created on pages. Outside of that, I was lost” Skye, (105). ☁️👁‍🗨☁️ After closing SKYE PAPERS, I’m coming down from sort of cerebral high, an elevated out-of-body experience that has me stammering at the meaning of life, love, and the world we live in. A prolonged trance where paranoia grips you by your forearms, shaking you back to reality. The steady electronic hum of CCTV and surveillance created “I would just stare at the sky. For a long time, it seemed nothing happened, except in the worlds created on pages. Outside of that, I was lost” Skye, (105). ☁️👁‍🗨☁️ After closing SKYE PAPERS, I’m coming down from sort of cerebral high, an elevated out-of-body experience that has me stammering at the meaning of life, love, and the world we live in. A prolonged trance where paranoia grips you by your forearms, shaking you back to reality. The steady electronic hum of CCTV and surveillance created in the narrative provides an orther-worldy third eye scrutinizing your every move. Points that stuck with me: #JamikaAjalon presents such a great lens into the black experience and identity and what it means to move among folks that look like you. Are you “REAL” or “WOKE” enough to be down? — Skye: “Those of the melanin nation weren’t always allies—you could be diminished under the interrogative eye questioning your “realness” (133). The coming into queerness was something I really enjoyed reading as well. The forceful obsession to blot out innate desires and attractions for someone that shares the same gender seems to be designed by the insecurities of selfish relationships and a religion that only serves to ostracize. The genes passed down by biological parents are that alone. The bad decisions, relationships, or even actions of a parent ARE NOT inherited and to pigeon-hole children into this idea only results in the need to seek freedom by any means necessary. Skye is a product of that and she carelessly stumbles towards that “free” oasis, under the whirring surveillance of the third-eye, in hopes to FIND herself. Thank you @feministpress for my uncorrected proof. SKYE PAPERS, an ‘amethyst edition’- publishes June 8, 2021. ☁️👁‍🗨

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    At the heart of this queer, punk, semi-dystopic transatlantic drug-fueled tale is a psychological mystery about memory and surveillance. Someone is watching Skye, but who and why? And why are parts of her memory blocked off? What does TAMT (The All Mighty They) have to do with it? Skye is a 20-something poet and wanderer who feels inexplicably bonded to a couple of squatting artists in New York and Brixton. But while the trio eke out a life of art-making and the illusion of freedom, it's increasi At the heart of this queer, punk, semi-dystopic transatlantic drug-fueled tale is a psychological mystery about memory and surveillance. Someone is watching Skye, but who and why? And why are parts of her memory blocked off? What does TAMT (The All Mighty They) have to do with it? Skye is a 20-something poet and wanderer who feels inexplicably bonded to a couple of squatting artists in New York and Brixton. But while the trio eke out a life of art-making and the illusion of freedom, it's increasingly clear that not everything is as it appears. Skye is an engaging and memorable character: a modern-day beatnik who carries around beat-up copies of "On the Road" and "Giovanni's Room". The world of the novel is atmospheric and intoxicating, the narrative is an engrossing interrogation of freedom, capitalism, and the surveillance state.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tabitha

    "To be free of this is perhaps costlier than most of us could fathom or believe we could handle. To see things as they are, and live your truth in spite of it; to have the courage to embrace where your own pulse might lead, even and especially when everything around you presses to acquiesce to the script, to what has “always been” and ultimately to have the courage to face yourself as you are - this, I suspect, is the price of the ticket, the path to whatever freedom lives." Being self-aware is h "To be free of this is perhaps costlier than most of us could fathom or believe we could handle. To see things as they are, and live your truth in spite of it; to have the courage to embrace where your own pulse might lead, even and especially when everything around you presses to acquiesce to the script, to what has “always been” and ultimately to have the courage to face yourself as you are - this, I suspect, is the price of the ticket, the path to whatever freedom lives." Being self-aware is hard as it is, but for Skye discovering herself requires also navigating the opinions and the eyes that seem to follow her through her “new self-determined life”. Skey’s story starts with her breaking free from her college-bound plans and hometown, she heads to New York and seeks out a man she barely knows and a couch she can call home until she builds her own path forward. Yet in those first few days in New York (with her new found freedom and drive), Skye’s decisions are bordered with fuzzy edges and a reliance on people she can barely call her acquaintances, Pieces and Scottie. These two seem to inevitably become her community as she imagines a life where she follows “where her feet itch” to go next - including an immediate move from NY to London. It’s her journey in London and the fast forming relationships with both Pieces and Scottie that lead her to begin to question how she got there in the first place. With each attempt at piecing together her timeline since she arrived in New York, Skye sees the edges of each memory blur further, she begins to question the roles her friends play in her life, and she can’t shake the uneasy sensation that they are all being watched. It’s this same uneasiness and questioning that extends into her understanding of herself. Skye leaves behind her boring relationship with her boyfriend and embraces a more fluid lifestyle of romance and art. She leans on her friend Pieces, exploring whether this friendship is in fact a crush and what that means for her own sexuality. At the same time, the absence of Pieces, someone she immediately seems anchored to and drawn to across her journey, requires Skye to reflect further on herself and understand how the strange community she’s formed contrasts with the relationships she had built in her past, including her parents. The deeper her reflection goes, the more unanswered pieces she uncovers as she seeks to understand what it means to be queer, to be independent, and to be an artist. Skye’s artistic tendencies are poetic at its core. Skye’s poetry flows through her from the beginning of the novel as a means for her to balance unique moments and emotions with the larger thematic shifts she witnesses in the communities around her. Skye also seeks fellow poets and “conscious brown-skinned folks” as she moves from her hometown, to Chicago, to NY, and finally to London. Yet, when she begins to share her gift, the reactions and presence of others hardly matter. Her voice and strength found in the beat of her prose carry her onward: "Except for some shy glances, I was focused on something way beyond. Midway through now. the journal found its home in my back pocket and I chanted the rest of the piece from memory. I lost myself in the all of it all. I’d gone into another realm, a place that felt as right as any right place I had ever felt and that kind of right was rare - I was exactly where I was supposed to be." Skye’s poetry and “realness” clashes with a constant question of observation or uneasiness among her friends. As Skye leans into her artistic voice, the reader watches her life unravel through each question and emotion Skye tries to resolve on her own. While she leans on her makeshift community for support, she also sees a stark contrast between her own thoughts and those of her friends, their mentors, and the larger artistic community she longs to be a part of in London. This same questioning and longing to be a part of something both unique and connected is what draws people back to Skye and helps Skye piece together her story and unravel the heavy weight of observation that follows her wherever she goes. Review 4/5 ⭐️ The author’s fluidity gives way to a story built upon glimpses of time and contrasting narration between observation and Skye’s poetic interpretations. I appreciated the prose and imagery provided throughout the narration and the author’s ability to explore poetry further through Skye’s talents and descriptive verse. While the themes of identity, queerness, and observation are poignant in this novel, I thought with the addition of a 3rd party observer/narrator that the author could’ve done more to use the supporting characters to illustrate or contrast these themes through their own experiences. The reader gets some of this through the manuscript style stage directions and observation and maybe it’s intentional to leave the reader wanting more of that by the end of the novel…. I also think the novel tries to tackle too many secondary themes, like familial dependence or influence, without offering resolution or more than one perspective. For instance - is Skye’s pursuit for truth about her mother necessary? This part of the story seems to fall out or is replaced by Skye’s new concept of “family” seen through her interactions with Scottie and Pieces. I also wonder if the open-ended spirit of this novel requires some of these intentionally unanswered questions, writing tropes, and themes so that the writing and plot are a reflection of each other. Although I had some trouble closing this novel with these unresolved details, there were many points where I was feverishly jotting down some of the prose in this novel. The author’s ability to articulate the challenges with adapting v. carving a new path in any society, let alone one under heavy surveillance, made the story arc easier to follow and left room for reflection as the reader learned more about Skye and her story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emily Mitchell

    Skye Papers is a psychedelic, Orwellian journey about artists and society. Using mystifying prose, Jamika Ajalon crafts a world of creativity, drugs, and misfits. On her way to her first semester at the University of Chicago, Skye meets Scottie. They share an intimate but disorienting moment on the greyhound bus. When her relationship with her boyfriend falls apart, she decides to leave Chicago and find Scottie in New York City. Her quest for Scottie leads her to Pieces. Skye finds herself enra Skye Papers is a psychedelic, Orwellian journey about artists and society. Using mystifying prose, Jamika Ajalon crafts a world of creativity, drugs, and misfits. On her way to her first semester at the University of Chicago, Skye meets Scottie. They share an intimate but disorienting moment on the greyhound bus. When her relationship with her boyfriend falls apart, she decides to leave Chicago and find Scottie in New York City. Her quest for Scottie leads her to Pieces. Skye finds herself enraptured with Pieces, a woman who is strong and loud in ways that Skye isn’t. Skye, Pieces, and Scottie become, as Scottie would say, the “power of three.” We follow the trio on their journey through squatting city to city and creating art in the 1990s. Skye, a college dropout who moves across the country to live with unconventional strangers, lacks motivation and direction. She spends most of her days tripping, drinking, and wandering aimlessly. However, Skye is surprisingly articulate about what it means to be a black woman and artist. Her obsession with Pieces and her intuition about being watched tears Skye in different directions. The novel follows Skye as she discovers her sexuality and questions the emergence of surveillance. Ajalon crafts realistic characters with a unique experience. She challenges readers to confront how acceptable it is to live a life under watch.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Thank you feminist press for a copy of this book I enjoyed the premise of this book and it continued to sucked me time and time again when I considered putting it down. I found it difficult to like the characters as they often seemed to act irrationally and I wasn't really sure what the was really going on for most of the book but the mystery kept this book going for me and the ending was very satisfying and led me to forgive some of the slow aspects of the read. Thank you feminist press for a copy of this book I enjoyed the premise of this book and it continued to sucked me time and time again when I considered putting it down. I found it difficult to like the characters as they often seemed to act irrationally and I wasn't really sure what the was really going on for most of the book but the mystery kept this book going for me and the ending was very satisfying and led me to forgive some of the slow aspects of the read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jdcamenker

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maria Burnham

  8. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  9. 5 out of 5

    Helena

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melon109

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lo

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pamster

  13. 5 out of 5

    jord

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Avery

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ry Herman

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Denise

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lottie Lawlor

  22. 4 out of 5

    tish

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Rose

  24. 5 out of 5

    Neudy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen (idleutopia_reads)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Book Mitch

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  29. 5 out of 5

    betta.read.books

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tanja

  31. 5 out of 5

    Maresa

  32. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

  33. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

  34. 5 out of 5

    Shae Costakis

  35. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

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