The Neighborhood Cafe: A Window on a Society’s Mind

JRAlilaNotonMySkinThe drama of life and its contradictions captured in JR Alila’s novel, Not on My Skin ( ), play out inside a Cafe on Oak Street in the fictional city of Harmony, New York. Four patrons are permanent faces among the cafe evening crowd. They include Sam the Ladykiller, Pierre the snoop, Dave Ochome the poet and Frank. Though these gentlemen from the surbabia appreciate their mutual presence in a ten-by-ten (feet) space in the downtown Cafe, they live their individual evenings in silence, as if the world never was at war in Somalia, Iraq, Congo, Durfour and Afghanistan; as if the AIDS epidemic never visited mankind; as if hurricanes, tornadoes and floods never visited the land; as if several election cycles never graced the land. The Cuban Girl, a Service Attendant, rightly calls these gentlemen Dummies. The only real man in the Cafe is a rather challenged individual, Alex, who is a bother to all in his innocent utterances. But Alex is the only trumpet of the true feelings of the privately bigotted patrons. When at his best, Alex unmasks the dirt behind the patrons’ thin skins, even as these getlemen must cry in protest, “Not on My Skin;” in silence, for sure! Gentlemen don’t shout in public.

JR Alila


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