cover image Havana Noir

Havana Noir

Achy Obejas, . . Akashic, $15.95 (355pp) ISBN 978-1-933354-38-5

The 17th in Akashic’s acclaimed series of original noir anthologies is the first with a non-Anglo setting (the two earlier non-U.S. locales were London and Dublin). The choice to collect Cuban stories was a smart one: it will expose American noir fans to other cultures, and readers interested in those other cultures will get a taste of noir. The authors will be unknown to virtually all American readers, but by and large, they prove themselves as capable of crafting grim and gritty stories of despair and irony as their more familiar counterparts. The standout is Mylene Fernandez Pintado’s “The Scene,” a short but searing portrait of trapped lives. As the unnamed narrator nears the end of his rope, he simultaneously faces eviction from his apartment and the impending death of his elderly mother, for whom he is caring. Pintado succeeds in using the genre without resorting to violence or sex, and this story should send readers in search of her other work, though most of it is available only in Spanish. (Oct.)