cover image Prison Noir

Prison Noir

Edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Akashic, $25.95 (260p) ISBN 978-1-61775-239-1

For Akashic’s celebrated noir series, Oates, a veteran instructor in prison writing programs, has assembled a remarkable anthology of stories written by inmates of correctional institutions across America. Standouts include Christopher M. Stephen’s “Shuffle,” in which a tormented older convict must confront an enigmatic new cellmate, and Linda Michelle Marquardt’s deeply unsettling “Milk and Tea,” about a survivor of horrific domestic violence who finally snapped and killed her sadistic husband. In Stephen Geez’s heartbreaking “Tune-Up,” violence cuts short the collaboration of a group of incarcerated musicians. Andre White’s “Angel Eyes” is a tour de force about a compassionate elderly convict who witnesses the dehumanization of a young inmate. The 15 selections display a wide variety of literary styles and approaches, but, as Oates suggests in her introduction, they beckon the reader to identify with the perpetrators. Most importantly, this landmark volume amplifies the voices of the incarcerated. (Sept.)