Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on Accra Noir, a brilliant collection of short stories by various Ghanaian authors, part of the Noir series of books celebrating the work of authors from various cities across the globe. My thanks to Fiona Brownlee of Brownlee-Donald and to publisher Cassava Republic for providing an advance of the book for review. Here’s more about the book:
About the Book
Accra is the perfect setting for noir fiction. The telling of such tales—ones involving or suggesting death, with a protagonist who is flawed or devious, driven by either a self-serving motive or one of the seven deadly sins—is woven into the fabric of the city’s everyday life . . .
Accra is more than just a capital city. It is a microcosm of Ghana. It is a virtual map of the nation’s soul, a complex geographical display of its indigenous presence, the colonial imposition, declarations of freedom, followed by coups d’état, decades of dictatorship, and then, finally, a steady march forward into a promising future . . .
Much like Accra, these stories are not always what they seem. The contributors who penned them know too well how to spin a story into a web . . . It is an honour and a pleasure to share them and all they reveal about Accra, a city of allegories, one of the most dynamic and diverse places in the world.
I love being able to read stories from around the world, to travel with new to me authors into their part of the globe and discover more about their culture, their history and even their beliefs, both spiritual and supernatural, hearing about them in their own words rather than via some heavily edited wikipedia article. Accra Noir gives me all of this, as well as the pleasure of reading some excellent crime short stories, and helping me to discover new voices who may otherwise have passed me by. Ghana is not a country I automatically think of when choosing where to look for my next read – having torn through this collection, I think I’ll be hunting down a bit more Ghanaian fiction when I get the chance.
The thing that struck me about this collection of stories is the variety of voices that the book gathers together, all painting a very similar and authentic feeling vision of Accra, but all in a very unique and engrossing way. The way in which the authors depict the essence of the city, the division between those who have everything and those who are at the bottom of the food chain. – the women who sell themselves in order to survive, the men who indulge in the occasional extra-marital dalliance as is their believed right – all both angered and engage me, making me curious and maybe a little apprehensive to learn more about the city for myself. There is blend of the everyday menace – drugs, murder, organised crime, corruption and prostitution – with a sense of some of the more out of the ordinary elements, sometimes almost spiritual, that makes the stories stand out and amplifies the culture and history of the city. It made me actually wish that one of two of them were a touch longer. What is clear from the stories – no matter where you live, the threats and the crimes at the heart of city life are very much the same.
This is a short story collection so it is perfect for reading in lunch breaks at work, even sneaking in the odd story whilst the dinner is cooking (although if you do, be warned – you may be checking out the origins label of any joints of meat you buy a little more closely – just in case …) Each author brings something a little different, a different sight or sound that made me feel as though I was right in the heart of the city and all took me on a journey I am very keen to continue. If you like short stories, and I know they aren’t for everyone, or even if you just fancy trying something a little different, this is definitely a collection I would recommend.