Akashic Books, which has published the popular Noir series of crime and mystery short fiction set in cities around the world since 2004, is now shining its literary spotlight not just upon an entire country but one that's been in the news for the past year. Although it's already in bookstores, Haiti Noir, edited by Edwidge Danticat, will be officially released in January, exactly a year after a catastrophic earthquake devastated that island nation on January 12, 2010.
The initial print run for Haiti Noir is 8,000 in trade paper and 1,000 in hardcover. A launch party, featuring Danticat and other contributors, will be held at Symphony Space, in New York City's Upper West Side neighborhood, on January 26. Other events, held in conjunction with Haitian cultural organizations, also are being scheduled.
"The timing is perfect: the world's attention is focused on Haiti," Johnny Temple, Akashic's publisher, said of the collection of 18 stories, 16 of them by native-born Haitians. Short stories by Madison Smartt Bell and Mark Kurlansky are also included.
Ten percent of the profits from sales of Haiti Noir will be donated to an organization selected by Danticat: the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a nonprofit that channels funds and other resources to Haitian community-based groups promoting economic justice, democracy, and sustainable development there.
According to Temple, Haiti Noir was in the works a year before the earthquake hit; the press has always been committed to publishing Caribbean fiction. "It was very unclear, [after] the earthquake, what would happen to the book," Temple said. "The context of the stories had changed." Three short stories set in post-earthquake Haiti have been added to the collection, the first time, Temple believes, such fiction has been published anywhere. "It's something else special about this book," he said.
This is the second time the Brooklyn publisher, which has released 43 volumes in the Noir series, has published an anthology focusing on a nation rather than a city. Trinidad Noir, edited by Lisa Allen-Agostini and Jeanne Mason, was released in 2008.