A wide-ranging collection from the beloved but besieged Caribbean island.
The 18 new stories, most by native Haitians, are introduced by Haitian-born National Book Award finalist Danticat. The editor/introducer does triple duty with "Claire of the Sea Light," which focuses on the sensuality of the island seen through a young girl's eyes. Each remaining tale has a different geographical setting. The opening and closing stories, Patrick Sylvain's "Odette" and Rodney Saint-Éloi's "The Blue Hill," deal with the recent earthquake. The former follows a grandmother's movements shortly after the disaster; the latter gives the quake a more metaphoric dimension. Other highlights: "Paradise Inn," by Kettly Mars, begins with the hero, Gokal's new police chief, arriving at his new post on a dark, humid night. In Josaphat-Robert Large's "Rosanna," the heroine's excitement over an outing with her beloved aunt soon turns to fear. Izzy Goldstein, the hero of Mark Kurlansky's wry "The Leopard of Ti Morne," knows that inside his Jewish exterior is a Haitian soul and decides to live accordingly. "The Harem," by Ibi Aanu Zoboi, probes the MO of Jean-Robert, an incorrigible seducer known to his conquests as Robby.
The 36th entry in Akashic's Noir series (which ranges from Bronx to Delhi to Twin Cities) is beautifully edited, with a spectrum of voices, stories grouped under three headings, maps that pinpoint story settings and pictures accopmanying the thumbnail author bios.