Addis Ababa Noir, a new anthology edited by Maaza Mengiste and published by Akashic Books, launched at the Strand Books, New York, USA, on August 4, 2020.
Akashic Books is a US publisher of urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are ignored by the mainstream. One of the most remarkable of its offerings is its Noir series, comprising stories set in a distinct neighbourhood or location within a city that started with Brooklyn Noir in 2004. Since then, there have been many in the series like Atlanta Noir, Amsterdam Noir, Baghdad Noir, Beirut Noir, Berlin Noir, Belfast Noir, Haiti Noir, Kingston Noir, and many more.
The African continent has recently joined the Akashic Book series with Lagos Noir edited by Chris Abani and Nairobi Noir edited by Peter Kimani (which launched this year). The latest in the series is the Maaza Mengiste edited Addis Ababa Noir. The new anthology features writing by Maaza Mengiste alongside Meron Hadero, Hannah Giorgis, Rebecca Fisseha, Mikael Awake, Mahtem Shiferraw, Sulaiman Addonia, Lelissa Girma, Girma T. Fantaye, Bewketu Seyoum, Adam Reta, Linda Yohannes, Solomon Hailemariam, and Teferi Nigussie Tafa.
The introduction to the book by Maaza Mengiste states of the book;
What marks life in Addis Ababa are the starkly different realities coexisting in one place. It’s a growing city taking shape beneath the fraught weight of history, myth, and memory. It is a heady mix. It can also be disorienting, and it is in this space that the stories of Addis Ababa Noir reside . . .
These are not gentle stories. They cross into forbidden territories and traverse the damaged terrain of the human heart. The characters in these pages are complicated, worthy of our judgment as much as they somehow manage to elude it. The writers have each discovered their own ways to get us to lean in while forcing us to grit our teeth as we draw closer . . .
Despite the varied and distinct voices in these pages, no single book can contain all of the wonderful, intriguing, vexing complexities of Addis Ababa. But what you will read are stories by some of Ethiopia’s most talented writers living in the country and abroad. Each of them considers the many ways that myth and truth and a country’s dark edges come together to create something wholly original—and unsettling.
The book launched on Tuesday, August 4, at the Strand Bookshop with Mikael Awake as a discussant. You can watch the launch in full below.
There are other opportunities for you to catch up with the writers of Addis Ababa Noir in case you missed out. There is an event happening this Friday, August 7 that you can register for here while Politics and Prose will be hosting an event on August 14.
If you want to get a copy of the book please click here.