Black Punk Now

Soft Skull. Oct. 2023. 352p. ed. by James Spooner & Chris L. Terry. ISBN 9781593767457. pap. $18.95. MUSIC
The experiences of Black people in the punk rock scene are at the center of this eye-opening but uneven anthology of short stories, comics, and essays. Edited by Afropunk Festival cocreator, director, and graphic novelist Spooner (The High Desert: Black. Punk. Nowhere) and novelist Terry (Black Card), this anthology gives readers a view into the chaotic but trenchant genre of punk rock, through the eyes of Black people with connections to it. The strongest portions of the anthology are the comics, illustrations, and essays that offer more personalized views. Highlights include “Punk Family Business” by Bobby Hackney, which tells the story of the creation of the all-Black hard-rock/proto-punk band Death, and “No Whites on the Mic,” a panel discussion of why the presence of Black and Brown people is important in the punk rock community. Other essays discuss the intersections of race and queerness. Nonfiction pieces are mixed with short fictional ones, some of which tend to slow down the flow of the book.
VERDICT Fans of punk rock will enjoy this anthology. There’s much to like despite the shortcomings of some of the fiction pieces.
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