If you have followed my reviews, you know I love the Akashic Noir series and have followed the series for years. I have rows of Akashic Noir books that are ripe for re-reading because short stories work that way, you can read them again and again, enjoying them as much as when they were new. The newest release, edited by Tayari Jones, is Atlanta Noir. Atlanta famously styles itself “the city too busy to hate” but that is slogan, not a narrative and the narrative of Atlanta is as complex as its history and its contradictions. Jones does an admirable job of encompassing those contradictions with a far-ranging and diverse collection of fourteen short stories that are noir in spirit.
There are stories of heart-breaking compassion such as The One-Eyed Woman by Gillian Royes, the story of a woman whose fallen from privilege to poverty. There are stories of heroic sacrifice such as Brandon Massey’s The Prisoner. David James Poissant’s The Comet broke my heart with a shattering humanity–the unspoken pain of the father recognizing his failures and his son’s loving understanding.
Then there are the purely horrifying stories like The Bubble by Jennifer Harlow and the story The Fuck Out by John Holman that leaves you in the moment, expecting, even knowing, that the horror would come if there were one more page to turn. The totality of all fourteen stories is excellent. There was not one I thought out of place or discordant. They are all noir, they are all well-written, getting our attention in a stranglehold that never lets go. They give a look at the underside of Atlanta that is animated by a love of the city.
This is an excellent addition to the series. Atlanta Noir is edited by someone who prioritized good story-telling and the noir sensibility over spanning all genres. This gives this anthology a cohesion that I appreciate. This is one of the stronger editions in the series and I happily recommend it.
I want to take a moment to suggest you add Akashic Noir to your gift catalog. If a friend of yours is moving, look up their new home and give them the Akashic Noir anthology for their new home. Maybe they will stay! More seriously, though, I think the noir sensibility is important to understanding a place. I think you should give anyone traveling to Paris, or Stockholm, or Trinidad the Akashic Noir edition for their destination. They might get ideas for more interesting adventures and will surely have a deeper enjoyment of their trip. For me, I love armchair traveling and Akashic Noir is my favorite transport.
Atlanta Noir will be released on August 1st. I received an e-galley in advance from the publisher through Edelweiss..