We wrap up book news for our readers in our Book Digest feature. Today our focus is the anthologies Accra Noir; No Time to Mourn: An anthology by South Sudanese Women; and Poetic Justice: An Anthology of Contemporary Moroccan Poetry (Modern Middle East Literatures in Translation).
Accra Noir (Akashic Noir)
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.
Brand-new stories by: Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Kwame Dawes, Adjoa Twum, Kofi Blankson Ocansey, Billie McTernan, Ernest Kwame Nkrumah Addo, Patrick Smith, Anne Sackey, Gbontwi Anyetei, Nana-Ama Danquah, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Eibhlín Ní Chléirigh, and Anna Bossman.
From the introduction by Nana-Ama Danquah:
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 honor 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.
No Time to Mourn: An anthology by South Sudanese Women
No Time to Mourn is a collection of short stories, poems, artwork and photography penned, produced and presented by South Sudanese women. It reflects the lives of the women writers and artists, and at the same time gives voice to the very real lived experiences and lives of every woman of South Sudanese heritage. The ideas and experiences in this book span decades they straddle borders, they cross continents and describe events that are hard to imagine, even with some knowledge of South Sudan’s history. It is hard not to be moved as you read what many of these authors have lived through as they strive to achieve those basic of human rights: life, liberty and security. Through this book, we learn more about the cost of war and the value of peace, and how they affect women’s abilities to found a home, bear and raise children, stay healthy and safe, secure education for themselves and their children, seek professional fulfilment and even fall in love, all while navigating society’s often narrowly defined gender roles.
Poetic Justice: An Anthology of Contemporary Moroccan Poetry (Modern Middle East Literatures in Translation)
Editor: Deborah Kapchan
Publisher: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Genre: poetry anthology
Where to find it: Amazon.
Poetic Justice is the first anthology of contemporary Moroccan poetry in English. The work is primarily composed of poets who began writing after Moroccan independence in 1956 and includes work written in Moroccan Arabic (darija), classical Arabic, French, and Tamazight.
Why Poetic Justice? Moroccan poetry (and especially zajal, oral poetry now written in Moroccan Arabic) is often published in newspapers and journals and is thus a vibrant form of social commentary; what’s more, there is a law, a justice, in the aesthetic act that speaks back to the law of the land. Poetic Justice because literature has the power to shape the cultural and moral imagination in profound and just ways.
Reading this oeuvre from independence until the new millennium and beyond, it is clear that what poet Driss Mesnaoui calls the “letters of time” have long been in the hands of Moroccan poets, as they write their ethics, their aesthetics, as well as their gendered and political lives into poetic being.