Magazine article World Literature Today

Lagos Noir

Magazine article World Literature Today

Lagos Noir

Article excerpt

Lagos Noir Ed. Chris Abani. New York. Akashic Books. 2018. 217 pages.

In the nearly fifteen years since Akashic Books premiered its Noir anthology, the short-fiction series has examined the criminal and often perilous reality of the most densely populated regions around the world. Continuing its trend of illuminating local literary giants and conjuring an almost mythological sense of mystery, Lagos Noir is a striking collection of prose birthed from Nigeria's largest city.

Partitioned into three movements focused on crime, family turmoil, and migration, respectively, the text rarely stutters with the thematic corners it explores. The curation shines in blending starkly different voices as each sequential episode dovetails into the next with ease. For instance, the first part, "Cops and Robbers," begins with a tale of police corruption, framing concepts like extortion and brutality, so the following works require little elaboration. The final part, "Arrivals and Departures," is a bit less fluid in this fashion but still justified in its independence nonetheless.

Covering one of the widest spectrums of genre-inspired stories, Chris Abani is as masterful as he is meticulous in his assembly of noir. Whereas Chicka Unigwe's "Heaven's Gate" details the plight of a young up-and-comer struggling to survive in Lagos's often apathetic streets, Wale Lawal's "Joy" examines the dark considerations and resolve spurred from postpartum terror. …

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