The Unfortunates

By J K Chukwu

‘A gripping call to action—and a daring triumph of a novel’ ADORAH NWORAH

‘Masterfully portrays the splintering of the mind in its most striking, unfiltered form’ AIWANOSE ODAFEN

‘A playful, powerful debut’ ZAKIYA DALILA HARRIS


Dear Reader,

It has come to my attention that smoking kills, along with police, loner white boys, and looks. While embroiled in the process of trying to live, I have written this honors thesis. It is dedicated to the first years who haven’t yet died from alcohol poisoning, exhaustion, or overdosing. This work has been a labor of love and of hate. In it, you will find juxtaposition, verisimilitude, French, Freud, and anything else I’ve wasted 60K a year to learn.

I would like to thank my advisors: Mr. White Supremacy, Mr. Capitalism, Ms. Racism, and, of course, my Life Partner for all the guidance they have provided during this process.

Set in the mind of a young Black woman who is losing hers, THE UNFORTUNATES is a darkly funny debut about the realities of elitist institutions from an exceptional new writer.

Early readers are loving The Unfortunates:

‘Chukwu’s style and format were incredibly creative and pertinent . . . I’d like to petition universities in America + Britain to give this out as a “Things You Should Know Before Applying”’ 5*

‘A powerful exploration of mental health and race at a US college with a creative style and structure. . . it refreshed the idea of what a campus novel could be’ 5 *

‘Such a powerful book about our struggles with mental health. What the author does so well is tackle the issue powerfully but also with biting humour’

Author: J K Chukwu
Format: Hardback
Release Date: 03 Aug 2023
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-00-847801-8
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 Fellow. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, DIAGRAM, and TAYO.

”'Teeming with dark humor and astute observations about academia through the lens of a queer, Black woman, Chukwu’s The Unfortunates is a gripping call to action” - and a daring triumph of a novel' Adorah Nworah

'Masterfully portrays the splintering of the mind in its most striking, unfiltered form, blending humour and resilience… a work that's refreshing in its uniqueness. We would benefit from more like it' Aiwanose Odafen -

”'[A] playful, powerful debut… A poignant reminder of how tight a hold mental illness can have” - Zakiya Dalila Harris, New York Times Book Review

”'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

”'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

”'Formidable…powerful. This blistering anthem brims with rage and hope” - Publishers Weekly

”'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

”'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


'I have not been able to put this book down' -

'A very powerful, dark, upsetting, devastating, enthralling… IMPORTANT read' -

'Powerful and razor-sharp' -

'One of the most unique reading experiences I've had in a while… feels one-of-a-kind from start to finish' -