Book Review: ‘Marrakech Noir,’ Edited by Yassin Adnan

From a review that originally appeared in The National:

Each of Akashic Books’ many noir collections, set in cities around the world, illuminates a new urban terrain and its literary tics. Beirut Noir (2015) was the first Arab-majority city to feature in the series and its stories are often avant-garde, circling around Lebanon’s civil war.

Baghdad Noir (2018), released in August, is full of grim realist and magical-realist war stories. Marrakech Noir, from Morocco’s flashiest city, was also released in August. This last collection stands out for its sense of humour, ranging from screwball to wry.

The introductions to Baghdad Noir and Marrakech Noir both suggest local writers had to be coaxed into crafting noir, a crime genre inspired by Hollywood films, often characterised by hard-boiled cynicism, sleazy settings and seductive women. Editor Yassin Adnan’s introduction, which he titles “City of Joy and Grit”, suggests his less-than-hard-boiled approach.

The 15 stories in Marrakech Noir are translated from Arabic, French and Dutch, and the crimes within are suited to a city where extreme wealth and poverty brush shoulders. There are women fleecing men, youths fleecing elders, guides fleecing tourists, and stories where everyone is trying to cheat everyone else.

Keep reading at The National.

Listen to a review on the Bulaq podcast.