A powerful collection of short stories from one of America's best writers
Shannon Burke earned stunning reviews for his debut novel, Safelight, and now he returns with the same minimalist intensity in this arresting follow-up.
Black Flies is the story of paramedic Ollie Cross and his first year on the job in mid-1990s Harlem. It is a ground’s eye view of life on the streets: the shoot-outs, the bad cops, unhinged medics, and hopeless patients, the dark humour in bizarre circumstances, and one medic’s fight to balance his instinct to help against the growing callousness within him that witnessing daily horrors seems to encourage. It is the story of lives that hang in the balance, and of a single job with a misdiagnosed newborn that sends Cross and his long-serving partner into a life-changing struggle between good and evil.
A gripping and unforgettable novel about a young man’s indelible experiences, Black Flies describes the passing of the torch from the older to the younger man, friendship in extreme conditions, deterioration, despair, and then redemption.
“each of the stories is self-defining ....to etch their portrait or (to use the metaphor of the title story) skin the subject, exposing nerves and tendons to the bloodthirsty curiosity of the reader.”