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Book Reviews
'Accra Noir'
By: Nana-Ama Danquah (Editor) - Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: 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.

Accra is the perfect setting for noir fiction. The telling of such tales — ones involving or suggesting death, with a protagonist who is flawed or devious, driven by either a self-serving motive or one of the seven deadly sins — is woven into the fabric of the city’s everyday life.

Verdict: The quietly compelling short story collection 'Accra Noir' features brand new stories by: Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Kwame Dawes, Adjoa Twum, Kofi Blankson Ocansey, Billie McTernan, Ernest Kwame Nkrumah Addo, Patrick Smith, Anne Sackey, Gbontwi Anyetei, Nana-Ama Danquah, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Eibhlín Ní Chléirigh, and Anna Bossman.

'Accra Noir' - a book that leaves an indelible impression on you from just the opening sentences of the very first story - has four parts: One Day for Master, Heaven Gate, No Bribe, All Die Be Die and Sea Never Dry.

Each story within each section takes place in a microcosm of Ghana, Accra. More than just a capital city, it is a virtual map of the nation’s soul, a complex geographical display of its indigenous presence, the colonial imposition, declarations of freedom, followed by coups d’état, decades of dictatorship, and then, finally, a steady march forward into a promising future.

Much like Accra, these stories are not always what they seem. The contributors who penned them know too well how to spin a story into a web.

Within this new book, the authors who share their many stories do so in a much revealing way about Accra, a city of allegories, one of the most dynamic and diverse places in the world.

Amongst many gripping stories, stand outs for me personally include a memorable Adjoa Twum's 'Shape-Shifters,' where the pig farm-told tale is brought forth via the investigation by police into a large storm drain - a corpse, with a slit throat is subsequently discovered and a cocaine-smuggling operation is revealed.

Another is the gripping 'Tabilo Wuɔfɔ' from Gbontwi Anyetei which focuses on, and acts as a rather casual introduction to the nuances of Ghanaian culture; and the stellar work from Eibhlin Ni Chlerigh 'The Boy Who Wasn't There,' which set amongst the stark contrasts of landscape and population of East Legon, is a tale that will resonate close to a lot of people's hearts around the world.

In the more traditional noir tale settings we get Nana-Ama Danquah’s 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' which opens on one of the most memorable lines I think any book has ever done, "Every day for the past five days, Kwame had woken up next to a corpse” - and subsequently runs into a terrifically-proposed spousal murder plot.

If you read this and love it as much as I think you will, please check out other Akashic Noir books, including 'Belgrade Noir,' 'Montana Noir,' 'Vancouver Noir,' 'Lagos Noir,' 'Milwaukee Noir,' and all the others!

Nana-Ama Danquah Nana-Ama Danquah was born in Accra, Ghana, and raised in the United States. She is the author of the memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression, and the editor of three anthologies: Becoming American, Shaking the Tree, and The Black Body.

Her essays, fiction, and poetry have been widely anthologized, and she has written for numerous magazines, journals, and newspapers, including Essence, Allure, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

During her tenure as an international speechwriter for the president of Ghana, the addresses she penned were delivered at the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union, the Palace of Westminster, the University of Oxford, and Harvard University.

She has taught at Otis College of Arts and Sciences, Antioch University, Los Angeles, and the University of Ghana, Legon. She splits her time between Accra and Los Angeles, and has one daughter, the actress and writer Korama Danquah.

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