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Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers

Edited by:

Joyce Carol Oates pulls out all the stops in this chilling female-centric noir collection featuring brand-new writing from Margaret Atwood, Aimee Bender, Edwidge Danticat, and more.

Forthcoming: 11/5/19

$15.95 $11.96

What people are saying…

“The 15 stories and six poems in this slim yet weighty all-original noir anthology—contributors include Margaret Atwood and Edwidge Danticat—are razor-sharp and relentless in their portrayal of life, offering snapshots of dysfunction, everyday toil, and brief joy . . . Each story sears but does not cauterize, leaving protagonists and readers raw. As Oates points out in her introduction, and the stories hauntingly evoke, noir’s strength has very little to do with man-centric plots and everything to do with female ascendance. Fans of contemporary crime fiction won’t want to miss this one.”
Publishers Weekly

“‘Is there a distinctive female noir?’ asks Oates in her introduction. This collection may not settle that question, but it goes a long way toward supplying candidates for an emerging canon. There are 15 stories here, all but one of them new, and half a dozen new poems . . . the average [story] is high enough to satisfy readers of all genders.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This collection enlivens . . . flattened archetypes by retelling the noir narrative from the new perspectives of teenage girls, women hired hands, and mothers of children.”
BookRiot, included in 9 of the Best Noir Fiction Retellings

“This all original anthology features 15 stories, in which a lot of bad men get their comeuppances, by Steph Cha, Edwidge Danticat, S.J. Rozan, and other women authors. Margaret Atwood contributes six poems.”
Publishers Weekly, Fall 2019 Adult Announcements (Mysteries & Thrillers)

“All of the stories in this collection are excellent, and I definitely recommend it for any connoisseur of noir looking to expand their repertoire with women writers.”
BookRiot, included in a list of “Noir by Women, Not Just Femme Fatales”

Praise for Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates:

“Reading the fifteen stories in Prison Noir is a sobering experience. Unlike most claimants to that much-abused term, this is the real thing . . . The power of this collection comes from the voices of these authors, voices suffused with rage (‘3 Block from Hell,’ by Bryan K. Palmer), despair (‘There Will Be Seeds for Next Year,’ by Zeke Caligiuri), and madness (‘Shuffle,’ by Christopher M. Stephen).”
New York Times Book Review

“These are stories that resonate with authenticity and verve and pain and truth. Any collection edited by the National Book Award–winning author Oates (them; Blonde, Rape: A Love Story) deserves attention, but the contributors are deft and confident, and great writers without her imprimatur . . . Authentic, powerful, visceral, moving, great writing.”
Library Journal, starred review

“A remarkable anthology of stories written by inmates of correctional institutions across America . . . Most importantly, this landmark volume amplifies the voices of the incarcerated.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“I gobbled it up. The voice in each piece is authentic . . . A fascinating read.”
subTerrain Magazine


Joyce Carol Oates, a queenpin of the noir genre, has brought her keen and discerning eye to the curation of an outstanding anthology of brand-new top-shelf short stories (and poems by Margaret Atwood!). While bad men are not always the victims in these tales, they get their due often enough to satisfy readers who are sick and tired of the gendered status quo, or who just want to have a little bit of fun at the expense of a crumbling patriarchal society. This stylistically diverse collection will make you squirm in your seat, stay up at night, laugh out loud, and inevitably wish for more.

Featuring brand-new stories by: Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood (poems), Valerie Martin, Aimee Bender, Edwidge Danticat, Sheila Kohler, S.A. Solomon, S.J. Rozan, Lucy Taylor, Cassandra Khaw, Bernice L. McFadden, Jennifer Morales, Elizabeth McCracken, Livia Llewellyn, Lisa Lim, and Steph Cha.

From the introduction by Joyce Carol Oates:

“The particular strength of the female noir vision isn’t a recognizable style but rather a defiantly female, indeed feminist, perspective. Cutting Edge brings together a considerable range of twenty-first-century female voices, from sociological realism (Cha) to Grand Guignol surrealism (Oates); from erotic playfulness (Bender) to dark fairy-tale determinism (Khaw). Here is a brilliantly deadpan graphic story by Lisa Lim, and here are brilliantly executed poems by Margaret Atwood. Artwork by Laurel Hausler is striking and original, sinister and triumphant; Noir Dame (on the front cover) is the perfect image of a mysterious beauty, far more than merely skin-deep, and essentially unknowable.”

Cover and interior art by Laurel Hausler.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 11/5/19
  • IBSN: 9781617757624
  • e-IBSN: 9781617757853
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617757617


JOYCE CAROL OATES is the author of a number of works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. She is the editor of New Jersey Noir and Prison Noir and a recipient of the National Book Award, the PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Humanities Medal, and a World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and was recently inducted into the American Philosophical Society. Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers is her latest work.

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