Among them these writers encompass, if not a Baghdad entire, then at least a Baghdad of diverse experiences and perspectives, and absolutely a Baghdad focused on the Arabic world and not the Western.
Characters in this collection are frequently on the receiving end of unpleasant epiphanies. And as this engaging group of stories amply demonstrates, betrayal--whether by authorities, religious leaders, neighbors, colleagues, or liberators--is a subject that Iraqis know all too well.
--Los Angeles Review of Books
This anthology's status as perhaps the first collection of Iraqi crime fiction ever published makes it a landmark.
Baghdad Noir, edited by Samuel Shimon as part of the Akashic Noir series, is an anthology of crime stories exploring contemporary life in the capital city, and the effect of Sadaam Hussein's regime, U.N. sanctions, the fracturing of Iraqi society during U.S. occupation and the war waged by ISIS. In true noir fashion, these stories are tantalizing whodunnits that reveal the daily struggles of regular people against the surreal backdrop of kidnappings and car bombs.
--Shelf Awareness for Readers, included in From My Shelf column
A riveting collection of stories by writers based in Iraq and abroad, edited by Samuel Shimon.
--Kirkus Reviews, featured in Radha Vatsal's International Crime Fiction Column, Is Noir Possible in Iraq? On International Crime Fiction, Part I
The overall effect of this gathering of stories is kaleidoscopic: shifting fragments that, coming together in the collection, create a sense of Baghdad's uneasily beating heart...It is a superbly multidimensional, many-voiced, defiant collection.
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. Now, one of the world's most war-torn cities is portrayed though a noir lens in this chilling story collection.
Brand-new stories by: Sinan Antoon, Ali Bader, Mohammed Alwan Jabr, Nassif Falak, Dheya al-Khalidi, Hussain al-Mozany, Layla Qasrany, Hayet Raies, Muhsin al-Ramli, Ahmed Saadawi, Hadia Said, Salima Salih, Salar Abdoh, and Roy Scranton.
From the introduction by Samuel Shimon:
While all Iraqis will readily agree that their life has always been noir, the majority of the stories in Baghdad Noir are set in the years following the American invasion of 2003, though one story is set in 1950 and three are set in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet it is this recent history of Iraq--over the last few decades--that serves to inform its present...Cementing the destruction of Iraqi life was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But that was hardly the end of Iraq's noir story. In April 2003, the US invasion, though it precipitated the end of Saddam's dictatorial rule, killed off any possibility of a secular, modern Iraq once and for all.
Taken as a whole, the stories in Baghdad Noir testify to the enduring resilience of the Iraqi spirit amid an ongoing, real-life milieu of despair that the literary form of noir can at best only approximate. Yet the contributions here manage to hold their own as individual stories, where the rich traditions of intersecting cultures transcend the immediate political reality--even while being simultaneously informed by it. Much like the diverse tapestry of cultures that join together on the banks of the Tigris to form the City of Peace, Baghdad Noir reveals that there's nothing monolithic or ordinary about the voices of its writers.
"Baghdad Noir is the latest addition to the simply outstanding 'Noir' anthology series from Akashic Books...A simply fascinating and at times compulsively driven read."
--Midwest Book Review
"Baghdad Noir is a monumental achievement for Akashic's long-running Noir series. The collection goes so far beyond the Iraq most of us have been exposed to over the last twenty years and offers up a vision of this important world city in all its complexity and humanity...This is a vital book, in every sense of the word."
--CrimeReads, included in the Best International Crime Fiction of 2018 list
"[An] engrossing collection of crime stories all set in various districts of Baghdad...Presented with a detailed map of the ancient city to illustrate where all the stories are based, the plots are all well-executed and offer various takes on the trusted genre."
--The National (UAE newspaper)
"Including literary heavyweights such as Ahmed Saadawi, whose novel Frankenstein in Baghdad was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, Baghdad Noir offers a unique opportunity to explore the inventive genius of various authors and to read haunting stories set in a rich and diverse city."
"While each new addition to the Akashic World Noir series includes a moody image of the volume's setting, Baghdad Noir, with its minaret shrouded in fog, is perhaps the best evocation of a city that's undergone many a transformation, and an acknowledgment that this anthology (which took 10 years to come together) can only hint at the true experience of life in Baghdad."
--CrimeReads, One of the Best Book Covers of 2018
"One of the newest additions to the massively expanding series, Baghdad Noir, details the chilling accounts of murders, crimes and those involved on both sides of the capers in one of the most war-torn cities worldwide."
"A regular noir reader will find much to love here, and a reader who wants some armchair tourism will find a dark and enthralling look at a world few Americans have seen."
--New York Journal of Books
"If any city qualifies for noir status today, it is strife-tattered Baghdad...The latest volume in Akashic's 'Noir series' maintains its high level of quality but adds a fillip: How do you address crime in a society that no longer has working protocols to cope with even the worst forms of violence?"
--Library Journal XPress Reviews