For Black, a mural artist in East L.A., the city's tumbledown landscape is his canvas. Residing in a ramshackle apartment above 'The Ugly Store', he lives for his art and obsesses over Sweet Girl, the transvestite stripper who serves as his muse. Black navigates life alongside the Los Angeles River, 'iridescent in its concrete sleeve', enlisting his friends - Iggy, the beautiful tattoo artist who has beguiled Hollywood's elite, and Bomboy, a wealthy Rwandan butcher - as he confronts his past and struggles to find his place in the world.
This is a searing and dazzlingly written novel of a tarnished City of Angels filled with indelible images and unforgettable characters. Chris Abani touches on the far reaches of psychic pain, religious and sexual, and takes the reader on an unforgettable journey.