Addis Ababa Noir

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A violent general turns his sights to his son’s lover. A man confesses to an expat-turned-tourist. Freedom fighters find themselves lost in the ever-shifting miasma of war, power, and ideals. The stories in Addis Ababa Noir are relentlessly dark and often unpleasant, exploring a land warped by war as well as people trapped between the challenges of modern life and religious/cultural traditions that still hold great sway. But they are also a fascinating lens through which to study an unfamiliar place.

I’ve read many Akashic Noir collections. As the series has expanded, spiraling outward into increasingly interesting and unlikely parts of the world, it has stretched the boundaries of what’s considered noir, often allowing non-noir crime stories or slice-of-life narratives into its pages. Addis Ababa Noir strays the furthest from the original concept thus far, enough so that many of the stories didn’t feel like they fit.

Maybe I’m clinging stubbornly to an outmoded idea of what noir is, maybe I’m nitpicking. These stories are challenging, heartrending, and worthwhile. They taught me a great deal about a place I know very little about, both in light and in darkness. But crime fans and noir fans may come away disappointed. Enlightened, but disappointed.

Reviewed By:

Author Maaza Mengiste
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Akashic Books
Publish Date 04-Aug-2020
ISBN 9781617758201 Buy this Book
Issue February 2022
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller