Kenji Jasper's "A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House" nominated for a 2018 Edgar Award for Best Short Story!
"Atlanta has its share, maybe more than its share, of prosperity. But wealth is no safeguard against peril...Creepy as well as dark, grim in outlook...Hints of the supernatural may make these tales...appealing to lovers of ghost stories."
"These stories, most of them by relative unknowns, offer plenty of human interest...All the tales have a Southern feel."
"Jones, author of Leaving Atlanta, returns to the South via Akashic's ever-growing city anthology series. The collection features stories from an impressive roster of talent including Jim Grimsley, Sheri Joseph, Gillian Royes, Anthony Grooms and David James Poissant. The 14 selections each take place in different Atlanta neighborhood."
"Now comes Atlanta Noir, an anthology that masterfully blends a chorus of voices, both familiar and new, from every corner of Atlanta...The magic of Atlanta Noir is readily apparent, starting with the introduction Jones pens. It doesn’t rest solely upon the breadth of writers but on how their words, stories and references are so Atlantaso very particular, so very familiar and so very readily, for those who know the city, nostalgic. And for those who don’t? The sense of place it captures inspires a desire to get to know Atlanta and its stories."
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. This much-anticipated and long-overdue installment in Akashic's Noir Series reveals many sides of Atlanta known only to its residents.
Brand-new stories by: Tananarive Due, Kenji Jasper, Tayari Jones, Dallas Hudgens, Jim Grimsley, Brandon Massey, Jennifer Harlow, Sheri Joseph, Alesia Parker, Gillian Royes, Anthony Grooms, John Holman, Daniel Black, and David James Poissant.
From the introduction by Tayari Jones:
Atlanta itself is a crime scene. After all, Georgia was founded as a de facto penal colony and in 1864, Sherman burned the city to the ground. We might argue about whether the arson was the crime or the response to the crime, but this is indisputable: Atlanta is a city sewn from the ashes and everything that grows here is at once fertilized and corrupted by the past...
These stories do not necessarily conform to the traditional expectations of noir...However, they all share the quality of exposing the rot underneath the scent of magnolia and pine. Noir, in my opinion, is more a question of tone than content. The moral universe of the story is as significant as the physical space. Noir is a realm where the good guys seldom win; perhaps they hardly exist at all. Few bad deeds go unrewarded, and good intentions are not the road to hell, but are hell itself...Welcome to Atlanta Noir. Come sit on the veranda, or the terrace of a high-rise condo. Pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, and fortify it with a slug of bourbon. Put your feet up. Enjoy these stories, and watch your back.
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About the Author
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Underneath the Scent of Magnolia and Pine
Atlanta, the "city too busy to hate," may be the noirest town in the nation. When I say "noir" I don't mean that we are the murder capital, nor do we strive to be. We are the ninth-largest city in the United States. Our airport is the busiest on earth, hosting over 100 million passengers in recent calendar years. (It is said that even on your way to heaven, you must change planes at Hartsfield-Jackson.) An entire school of hip-hop was born here too. But it is not our urbanity alone that makes us noir. We are a Southern city. Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind both in and about Atlanta. Martin Luther King's Ebeneezer still stands proud on the northeast side of town. Just after the Civil War, six colleges were founded to lift the recently emancipated, and these institutions promote black (Southern) excellence to this day.
Atlanta is rife with contradictions. Priding ourselves on not putting all our business in the street, we shelter secrets for generations. At the same time, we have somehow managed to become a reality television hub. TV personality Todd Chrisley serves up his own brand of "bless your heart" backhandedness and family dysfunction for millions of viewers all over the country, yet gossip magazines hint at a scandal hidden in full view. Most of the "Real" Housewives of Atlanta are not even from Atlanta, nor are they housewives, but they have taken our hometown as their own — and housewifery is a state of mind, not a marital status. These ladies fight at baby showers, marry with the cameras rolling, and divorce in the same fashion. T.I. and Tiny of The Family Hustle are ATLiens for sure, and they allow us to be spectators as they negotiate what it means to be recently rich, famous, and black. Kim Zolciak used to be a Real Housewife of Atlanta, sharing the most intimate details of her love life, but drawing the line at being filmed without her blond wig. After the racial tensions on set bubbled over, she moved to her own show, the programming equivalent of white flight — and actually became a housewife.
Atlanta Noir is not a citified version of Southern Gothic. These authors delve deep into the grotesquerie that is embedded in every narrative and character. When we write noir, we don't shine a light into darkness, we lower the shades. There are no secrets like Southern secrets and no lies like Southern lies.
Keep in mind that there are those who still speak of the Civil War as the "War of Northern Aggression," perhaps the biggest lie of all. Bronze markers dot the landscape, lamenting the loss, never allowing the past to pass. Yet, in the early 1980s, a serial killer terrorized the city for two years, murdering at least twenty-eight African American children, but this recent history has been put to bed. No memorial stands in honor of the fallen. No one has forgotten, but nobody talks about it, because this is Atlanta and this is how we do things.
This city itself is a crime scene. After all, Georgia was founded as a de facto penal colony and in 1864, Sherman burned the city to the ground. We might argue about whether the arson was the crime or the response to the crime, but this is indisputable: Atlanta is a city sewn from the ashes and everything that grows here is at once fertilized and corrupted by the past.
In this anthology, I am excited to share fourteen writers' take on the B-side of the ATL. These stories do not necessarily conform to the traditional expectations of noir as several of them are not, by any stretch, crime fiction. However, they all share the quality of exposing the rot underneath the scent of magnolia and pine. Noir, in my opinion, is more a question of tone than content. The moral universe of the story is as significant as the physical space. Noir is a realm where the good guys seldom win; perhaps they hardly exist at all. Few bad deeds go unrewarded, and good intentions are not the road to hell, but are hell itself.
They call it the "Dirty South" for a reason. Here, Waffle House is more than a marker of Southern charm and cholesterol. Yes, the hash browns are scattered, smothered, and chunked, but narcotics, sex, and cash are available, if not on the menu. Just on the outskirts of the East Lake Golf Club is a neighborhood that is not mentioned on the real estate brochures. Perhaps it's true that servants are just like family, but this is not necessarily an upgrade. Megachurches may save you from sin, but not from the wrath of the past.
That said, this book also engages noir in the old-fashioned sense of the word, hard-boiled and criminal. Judges put hits on citizens, crazy neighbors turn out to be homicidal — and victims of homicide. Drug dealers double-cross each other, and sometimes sweet little girls murder just for the hell of it.
But don't forget that this is the Peach State, and down here, we like to take our poison with a side of humor. Behind every murder, under every drug deal, beneath each church pew, and tucked into the working girls' purses is a moment of the absurd and a laugh to be had at the expense of those who can't handle the truth.
Welcome to Atlanta Noir. Come sit on the veranda, or the terrace of a high-rise condo. Pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, and fortify it with a slug of bourbon. Put your feet up. Enjoy these stories, and watch your back.
Tayari Jones May 2017
Excerpted from "Atlanta Noir"
Copyright © 2017 Akashic Books.
Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of ContentsTable of Contents
Part I: The Devil Went Down to Georgia
“Snowbound” by Tananarive Due (Buckhead)
“Terceira” by Dallas Hudgens (College Park)
“The Prisoner” by Brandon Massey (Grant Park)
“Kill Joy” by Sheri Joseph (East Atlanta)
“One-Eyed Woman” by Gillian Royes (Virginia-Highland)
Part II: Kin Folks & Skin Folks
“Selah” by Anthony Grooms (Inman Park)
“Caramel” by Tayari Jones (Cascade Heights)
“Comet” by David James Poissant (Stone Mountain)
“Come Ye, Disconsolate” by Daniel Black (Mechanicsville)
Part III: Nose Wide Open
“The Bubble” by Jennifer Harlow (Peachtree City)
“A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House” by Kenji Jasper (Vinings)
“Four in the Morning in the New Place” by Jim Grimsley (Little Five Points)
“Ma’am” by Alesia Parker (Midtown)
“The Fuck Out” by John Holman (East Lake Terrace)