Chesya has written and published nearly a hundred works of fiction and articles within the genres of science fiction, fantasy, noir, and horror. Her story collection,Let's Play White, is being taught in universities around the country and her novel,The Strange Crimes of Little Africa, debuted in Dec 2015. Poet Nikki Giovanni compared her writing to that of Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison, and Samuel Delany called her "a formidable new master of the macabre."

Let's Play White by Chesya Burke

White brings with it dreams of respect, of wealth, of simply being treated as a human being. It's the one thing Walter will never be. But what if he could play white, the way so many others seem to do? Would it bring him privilege or simply deny the pain? The title story in this collection asks those questions, and then moves on to challenge notions of race, privilege, personal choice, and even life and death with equal vigor.

From the spectrum spanning despair and hope in "What She Saw When They Flew Away" to the stark weave of personal struggles in "Chocolate Park," Let's Play White speaks with the voices of the overlooked and unheard. "I Make People Do Bad Things" shines a metaphysical light on Harlem's most notorious historical madame, and then, with a deft twist into melancholic humor, "Cue: Change" brings a zombie-esque apocalypse, possibly for the betterment of all mankind.

Gritty and sublime, the stories of Let's Play White feature real people facing the worlds they're given, bringing out the best and the worst of what it means to be human. If you're ready to slip into someone else's skin for a while, then it's time to come play white.


Chesya Burke's debut short story collection, Let's Play White, cuts to the marrow, with stories of horror and dark fantasy that waste no words and resonate whether it's Depression-era Harlem, or a zombie apocalypse. Often and eloquently, she shows us the horror of the mundane. Make no mistake there are places here you don't want to end up, but there's hope amongst the horror too. – Tenea D. Johnson



  • "Haunted by history and past wrongs, Burke's characters are never alone, never safe, never comfortable. She weaves African and African-American historical legend and standard horror themes into stories that range from gritty subway gore fests to a sympathetic take on zombies."

    – Publishers Weekly
  • "Chesya Burke's writing style is just mesmerizing – there is an undeniable lyricism there but also a tangible darkness and pain. Readers who enjoy their fantasy decidedly dark and deep should check out this profoundly moving collection asap."

    – B&N Book Club, Paul Goat Allen
  • "These raw, brutal stories, often with intriguingly open endings, display an odd and unsettling relationships to the poetry of violence. These dark tales announce the arrival of a formidable new master of the macabre."

    – Samuel R. Delany, author of Dhalgren and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders



CUE: Me running for my life. The zombies didn't really chase you, as much as they loomed menacingly. There was something in their demeanor that signaled they were the zombies—that they were changed and not like the rest of us. Of course, I had heard the rumors about the inner cities and that people were looting and rioting in the streets. But hell, they were my streets. And I never believed white folks until I saw evidence for myself. Call it a survival mechanism.

Survival was what had me running for my life at that moment. I had been out hustling when I realized that perhaps zombies did exist. Now, hustling may seem like a questionable occupation, but really it just meant that I was working. At Walmart, no less. I was a sales associate, which was a fancy term for cashier. It wasn't a Walmart in my own neighborhood—there weren't any there. I was in some ritzy part of town where people actually spent good money on Kleenex to wipe their noses instead of using plain toilet paper like the rest of us.

I was waiting on some chick who had too much money to spend on dyeing her hair a color that no human being had ever been born with, when suddenly she reach out to touch me. You have to understand the dynamic in this situation before you realize that this was odd. These people didn't touch me; most of them placed their money on the roller to keep from touching me. And they didn't care if their money or sometimes their credit cards rolled right down the hatch, they'd just take out more.

So when this woman reached for me, I recoiled out of reflex. Then she leaned in and whispered, "It doesn't hurt. I just need to touch you, to taste you." Her eyes rolled toward the back of her head for a moment while she sniffed the air, evidently smelling me.