Nairobi Noir

“Nairobi Noir,” edited by Peter Kimani, to launch in Nairobi on Thursday, January 30.

Nairobi Noir, the new anthology edited by Peter Kimani, is set to launch at the Alliance Francaise, Nairobi on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

The “Noir” series, comprising stories set in a distinct neighbourhood or location within a city, was launched by US publisher Akashic Books with Brooklyn Noir in 2004. Since then, there have been many anthologies in the series like Atlanta Noir, Amsterdam Noir, Baghdad Noir, Beirut Noir, Berlin Noir, Belfast Noir, Haiti Noir, Kingston Noir, and many more. For Africa, the only version of these books currently published and available to the reading public at the moment is Chris Abani-edited Lagos Noir.

The latest edition of the Noir series from Africa is the Peter Kimani-edited anthology Nairobi Noir. The book has contributions from Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Stanley Gazemba, Ngumi Kibera, Peter Kimani, Winfred Kiunga, Kinyanjui Kombani, Caroline Mose, Kevin Mwachiro, Wanjiku Ngugi, Faith Oneya, Makena Onjerika, Troy Onyango, J.E. Sibi-Okumu and Rasna Warah. The editor introduces it thus;

Nairobi Noir is an act of excavation, rediscovering the city’s ossified past and infusing life to preserve it for future generations. It is also an act of celebration, reminding readers of the brilliance of the best-known writers to emerge from this part of the world, and heralding the birth of new writers whose gifts, we can safely predict, will shine brightly in the years ahead.

The oldest writer in this anthology is eighty-one, the youngest is only twenty-four; if there is any inference one can draw from this demographic it is that this anthology offers an entire spectrum of Kenyan writing: the past, present, and future. If we can allow one extravagant claim, a collection of this nature is unprecedented in Kenya’s literary history.

Although the range of issues explored in Nairobi Noir is as diverse as its contributors, it all gestures toward a common theme. In this concrete jungle, the hunters and herders live on. As do the hunted . . .

Nairobi residents will get the first peek of this new publication when it launches at the Alliance Francaise as part of the ‘Night of Ideas’ this week. ‘Night of Ideas’ is an annual event, initiated by the Institut Français, the French Agency for International Cultural Relations, to share ideas and knowledge around topical issues and across different platforms. This year’s theme is ‘Being Alive’.

So if you are in Nairobi we recommend that you head out to the Alliance Francaise on Thursday. The organisers of the event promise that many of the contributors to the anthology will be present to sign any and all copies that you buy. The fun starts at 6:30pm.



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