cover image Tel Aviv Noir

Tel Aviv Noir

Edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron. Akashic, $26.95 (280p) , $15.95 ISBN 978-1-61775-154-7

Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion famously stated, “We will know we have become a normal country when Jewish thieves and Jewish prostitutes conduct their business in Hebrew.” That “normality” is certainly evident in the 14 stories in this routine Akashic anthology, which feature murderers, hookers, pimps, drug dealers, and mobsters, both Jewish and Arab, though it’s not always clear how they fit the noir label. Some selections could have been transplanted from Tel Aviv to other cities with only minor changes—and none deals with politics or the Palestinian situation. The standouts are Gai Ad’s “The Expendables” and Antonio Ungar’s “Said the Good.” James M. Cain would recognize the setup of Ad’s story, in which the life of an attractive widow takes a violent turn after her husband’s cancer-related death leaves her at loose ends. Ungar’s tale of warring organized crime factions would certainly make Ben-Gurion feel , for better or worse, that Israel is now normal. (Oct.)