Paula L. Woods Reviews “Kingston Noir”

In “The dark sensibilities of ‘Kingston Noir’” Paula L. Woods reviews the recent anthology (June 2012) edited by Colin Channer, stating that “it subverts the simplistic sunshine/reggae/spliff-smoking image of Jamaica at almost every turn.” She adds that “It’s amply rewarding.” See excerpts with a link to the full Los Angeles Times article below:

Starting in 2004 with “Brooklyn Noir,” the more than 50 titles in the Akashic Books series of crime fiction have been distinguished by contributions from writers who live in or write about cities and areas rife with Hollywood-influenced dark sensibilities (Los Angeles, Manhattan, San Francisco) as well as unexpected places (the Twin Cities, Orange County, Delhi) but whose stories teem nonetheless with betrayal, rage and revenge. Notable editors have included Edwidge Danticat (Haiti), Dennis Lehane (Boston) and Patrick Millikin (Phoenix), all of whom have articulated a clear vision for their anthologies while assembling and challenging their usual and unusual suspects to explore character, setting and story in fresh ways.

Add to that list of crime impresarios Colin Channer, editor of “Kingston Noir.” Born in Kingston and raised there until he was 19, Channer has an obvious affection for this “liquor-loving, music-maddened, seafood smitten, class-addicted place.” So too do “Kingston Noir’s” 11 contributors, most of whom are Jamaican born and who, while not considered genre writers, were chosen to illuminate what Channer calls the city’s “turbulent dynamics, with the way its boundaries of color, class, race, gender, ideology, and sexual privilege crisscross like storm-tangled power lines.”

[. . .] “Kingston Noir” subverts the simplistic sunshine/reggae/spliff-smoking image of Jamaica at almost every turn, none more powerfully than in “Immaculate,” Marlon James’ story that closes Part 2, its title taken from the Bob Marley song “Is This Love.” James, whose debut novel, “John Crow’s Devil,” was shortlisted for The Times’ Book Prize, weaves a complex, chilling tale of a group of adolescent girls at Immaculate Conception High School, their naïve dreams of boyfriends and hilltop mansions overlooking the sea shattered when one of their classmates disappears and is found several days later, brutally violated and literally thrown under a bus. [. . .]

Although “Kingston Noir” makes no concessions to those unfamiliar with Jamaican idioms or history by including a glossary of terms or a timeline of events, the collection amply rewards the reader with a rich interplay of geographies and themes that Channer imagined at the outset but which also echoes Chandler’s observation of Los Angeles’ noir milieu: “The streets were dark with something more than night.”

For full review, see http://www.latimes.com/features/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-kingston-noir-20121021,0,5556776.story

For purchasing information, see http://www.akashicbooks.com/kingstonnoir.htm

Photo from http://www.strandbooks.com/product/kingston-noir

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