One of the latest installments in the Akashic Books noir series doesn't look at just one city, as the other books have, but at an entire nation — one where just getting through the day is an exercise in life-as-noir. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck not far from Port-au-Prince almost a year ago, on January 12, 2010, with an estimated 230,000 people killed, 300,000 injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. Since then, over 1,000 people have died from cholera, and violent protests have broken out, shutting down schools, businesses and the international airport.
Award-winning novelist Edwidge Danticat had been working for a year as editor on Akashic's Haiti Noir anthology when the earthquake struck, and she was worried some of the stories would become irrelevant or not ring true, but ultimately felt that didn't happen. In fact, she solicited three earthquake-related stories that found their way into the book. She tried to get a mixture of literary styles, adding she "was glad reading the other books in the series to see that noir did not only mean detective stories. We have many variations on the detective story here; however each writer defined noir for him- or herself and came up with something powerful. The stories are dark in that bad things happen in them. There is of course a Haitian sensibility because the stories are set in Haiti or in the Haitian diaspora. They are about both individuals and the larger society."
As Publishers Weekly noted, the anthology contains several stories that feature the practice of Vodou including Kettly Mars's supernatural thriller "Paradise Inn," in which a detective investigating police corruption is transferred to a remote village and falls under the seductive power of a fearsome innkeeper and her succubus-like daughter, and Gary Victor's "The Finger," where a criminal's trophy of an expensive ring, with its dead former owner's finger still attached, comes back to haunt him.
The launch party featuring Danticat and other contributors will take place at Symphony Space in New York City on January 26. Ten percent of the profits from sales of Haiti Noir will be donated to an organization Danticat chose, the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a nonprofit that helps fund Haitian community-based groups promoting economic justice, democracy and sustainable development.