São Paulo Noir is an anthology of thirteen short stories situated in São Paulo, the largest city in South America famed for its contradictions, its deep poverty and conspicuous wealth, privation and consumption, lascivious celebrations and deep piety. A collection of short stories that captures those contradictions seems impossible, but São Paulo Noir seems to succeed with ease.

Anyone who follows my reviews knows I am a big fan of the series of anthologies from Akashic Books called Akashic Noir. They are the ultimate armchair travel, not just to another place but to another mood, the mood of noir. In this edition, there are thirteen stories by Brazilian authors in different neighborhoods of the famed city. I listed the contents at the bottom if you’re familiar with Brazilian authors. I am not, so each was a fresh voice.

This collection is more classically noir than many others in the series. Bellotto felt no need to prove something by stretching the boundaries of noir. I appreciate the truth in advertising. Many stories have elements of that most Latin American of literary genres, magic realism, but others are completely realistic. The first, “Cross Contamination” is one of my favorites, a maid cleaning a murder scene is also teaching the new trainee and you realize her years as a maid give her a Holmesian deductive capacity and interest, to perhaps her detriment. One short story, in particular, cracked me up. It was written by the humorist Jô Soarest and had a detective remarkably skilled in the pratfall. Mario Prata’s “Teresão” is very surreal, though I suppose it’s possible. “24-Hour Service” is opens with a remarkable game of Telephone, particularly remarkable in its ability to keep the message consistent.

There are stories of corruption, madness, compulsion, snobbery, and vanity. All the vices that drive the noir world.

São Paulo Noir has the best introduction of all the Akashic Noir series. It’s short, without specifics about the different stories, but it still sets the mood beautifully in a very short and poetic essay. I loved the stories and think this is one of the stronger in the series.

I received an e-galley ofSão Paulo Noir from the publisher through Edelweiss.


Title Author Neighborhood
Cross Contamination Vanessa Barbara Mandaqui
Boniclaide and Mrs. Als Ilana Casoy Cidade Jardim
Useless Diary Tony Bellotto Bixiga
My Name Is Nicky Nicola Jô Soarest Mooca
Teresão Mario Prata Vila Carrão
As If the World Were a Good Place Marçal Aquino Canindé
Margot Drauzio Varella República
24-Hour Service Fernando Bonassi Morumbi
The Final Table Marcel Rubens Paiva Baixo Augusta
The Force Is with Me Beatriz Bracher & Maria S. Carvalhosa Panamericana
Flow Ferréz Itapecerica da Serra
Coffee Stain Olivia Maia
Any Similarity Is Not Purely Coincidental Marcelino Freire Guaianases