cover image Manila Noir

Manila Noir

Edited by Jessica Hagedorn. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-61775-160-8

While certain cities in past Akashic volumes might appear to lack an obvious noir element, Manila (like Mexico City, which shares many of the same problems) practically defines it, as shown by the 14 selections in this excellent anthology. As Hagedorn points out in her insightful introduction, Manila is a city burdened with a violent and painful past, with a long heritage of foreign occupation. The specters of WWII (during which the city suffered from U.S. saturation bombing), and the oppressive 20-year reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos live on in recent memory. The Filipino take on noir includes a liberal dose of the gothic and supernatural, with disappearance and loss being constants. We read of families splintered by violence, drugs and desperation, mothers and fathers forced to leave their families to find work abroad. There's also the economic colonialism of call centers, a major form of employment in Manila. Sabina Murray's "Broken Glass," Lourd de Veyra's "Satan Has Already Bought U," and F.H. Batacan's "Comforter of the Afflicted" are among the stand-outs, along with Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo's superb graphic story, "Trese: Thirteen Stations." (June)