Nairobi Noir launches in Nairobi

The Peter Kimani edited Nairobi Noir anthology launched at the Alliance Francaise, Nairobi on January 30, 2020.

The “Noir” series, comprising stories set in a distinct neighbourhood or location within a city, was launched by US publisher Akashic Books with Brooklyn Noir in 2004. Since then, there have been over one hundred anthologies in the series like Atlanta Noir, Amsterdam Noir, Baghdad Noir, Beirut Noir, Berlin Noir, Belfast Noir, Haiti Noir, Kingston Noir, and many more. For Africa, the only version of these books currently published and available to the reading public at the moment is the Chris Abani-edited Lagos Noir.

The latest edition of the Noir series from Africa is the Peter Kimani-edited anthology Nairobi Noir with contributions from Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, Stanley Gazemba, Ngumi Kibera, Peter Kimani, Winfred Kiunga, Kinyanjui Kombani, Caroline Mose, Kevin Mwachiro, Wanjiku Ngugi, Faith Oneya, Makena Onjerika, Troy Onyango, J.E. Sibi-Okumu and Rasna Warah.

This new anthology launched at the Alliance Francaise as part of its ‘Night of Ideas’ with ten of the fourteen writers in attendance. These were Stanley Gazemba, Peter Kimani, Winfred Kiunga, Kinyanjui Kombani, Caroline Mose, Kevin Mwachiro, Faith Oneya, Makena Onjerika, J.E. Sibi-Okumu and Rasna Warah.

The evening, conducted with some panache by the beloved Mshai Mwangola, started off with a speech from an official from the Alliance Francaise before the official activities kicked off.  For the next couple of hours, we heard the writers directed by our moderator, read excerpts from their work then speak about the motivations for said work and a bit more.

The event turned out to be one of the biggest literary events in recent memory with the available copies from Prestige Books quickly running out to the chagrin of those who hadn’t bought in time. The evening ended with hundreds, yes hundreds, milling around the Alliance Francaise getting their books signed by the writers and drinking the evening away.

Below is some video that we recorded on our trusty cellphone camera from the evening.