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Addis Ababa Noir (Ethiopia)

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Addis Ababa is a sprawling melting pot of cultures where rich and poor live side by side in relative harmony—until they don’t.

$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

Maaza Mengiste’s story “Dust, Ash, Flight” has won the 2021 Edgar Award for Best Short Story, presented by the Mystery Writers of America!

“Several of the 14 stories here, most of them striking and accomplished, involve post-revolution loss, guilt and revenge. Some are surreal—fitting for a culture where, as Mengiste writes in her introduction, ‘there are men who live in the mountains of Ethiopia and can turn into hyenas.'”
Washington Post

“While most stories told about or set in Africa deny the continent and the nearly 60 countries that constitute it narrative complexity, this anthology works overtime to get specific about the people and problems that define Addis Ababa.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“A taut collection of thrilling stories that encompasses modes from the realistic to the uncanny.”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Booker Prize shortlistee Maaza Mengiste rounds up a brilliant cast of Ethiopian writers to ponder the dark underbelly of one of Africa’s oldest cities through page-turning crime stories guaranteed to keep your pulse thumping.”
Brittle Paper, One of 50 Notable African Books of 2020

Addis Ababa Noir is another African collection from Akashic Books. And once again, it’s surprising, diverse, and contains some superb writing.”
International Thriller Writers, The Big Thrill

“This is a journey into a city that has seen joy and horror, that has tasted blood and smelt roses, that reflects the light of the sun while is sometimes cloaked in the shadow of darkness and can change shape based on who you are. This rich collection of short stories pulls you in and launches an assault on all your senses.”
African Arguments, One of the Top African Books of 2020

“Addis is one of Africa’s—and the world’s—most vibrant, dynamic scene, and the new Akashic collection displays it in all its complexity. With acclaimed writer Maaza Mengiste at the editing helm, the book brings together an exciting collection of voices exploring the city’s noir side. This is a chance for readers to discover an important literary scene and to explore a city’s past and present.”
CrimeReads, One of the Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2020

“Notwithstanding the fixed presence of real parts of the capital city at the heart of these stories, the noir crime genre allows these tales to take on an eerie timeless and placeless quality that captures the character of this African hub in intriguing ways.”

Addis Ababa Noir is a beautiful read, and it succeeds in the historical excavation it undertakes . . . [It] is a powerful collection, carefully curated and plunging unexpected depths.”
New Frame

“[The book’s] strength is these writer’s unflinching approach to reality . . . The other major plus is the opportunity to discover many accomplished Ethiopian writers. A book to definitely explore.”
Dispatches from Ethiopia

“Editor Maaza Mengiste takes the idea of Noir well beyond the well trod paths of crime stories. Mengiste’s vision of Noir embraces myth, memory and the paranormal.”

“The stories vary in style, each author morphing their personal philosophies and versions of Ethiopian noir into their fiction.”
What’s Out! Addis

“The 14 stories in the collection give one a snapshot of Ethiopian writers, new and established, and of what they can do. It makes one scramble for more of their work. Mengiste and Akashic have done us a service by putting together this intriguing collection.”
New York Journal of Books

“The standouts ensure evocative glimpses into a bustling, multi-ethnic, multilingual metropolis few in the West will have visited.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Each contributor embraces day-to-day life in Ethiopia, and fills each story with a rich sense of time, place, and character. The authors reveal much about a culture unfamiliar to many American readers.”
Publishers Weekly

“Novelist Mengiste presents 14 stories showcasing Ethiopia’s capital at its darkest . . . A nice variety of bad behavior. East, West: Noir’s best.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Overall, this is a wonderful introduction—dark and creative, of course, at times—to this sprawling city of three million plus inhabitants, a real melting pot of cultures.” —TripFiction.com

Included in African Book Addict’s 2020 New Releases Preview

“The stories are beautifully written and express the highs and lows of this incredible city—a city that has suffered greatly and a people that have suffered along with their city.”
The Cyberlibrarian


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.

Brand-new stories by: Maaza Mengiste, Adam Reta, Mahtem Shiferraw, Linda Yohannes, Sulaiman Addonia, Meron Hadero, Mikael Awake, Lelissa Girma, Rebecca Fisseha, Solomon Hailemariam, Girma T. Fantaye, Teferi Nigussie Tafa, Hannah Giorgis, and Bewketu Seyoum.

From the introduction by Maaza Mengiste:

What marks life in Addis Ababa are the starkly different realities coexisting in one place. It’s a growing city taking shape beneath the fraught weight of history, myth, and memory. It is a heady mix. It can also be disorienting, and it is in this space that the stories of Addis Ababa Noir reside . . .

These are not gentle stories. They cross into forbidden territories and traverse the damaged terrain of the human heart. The characters in these pages are complicated, worthy of our judgment as much as they somehow manage to elude it. The writers have each discovered their own ways to get us to lean in while forcing us to grit our teeth as we draw closer . . .

Despite the varied and distinct voices in these pages, no single book can contain all of the wonderful, intriguing, vexing complexities of Addis Ababa. But what you will read are stories by some of Ethiopia’s most talented writers living in the country and abroad. Each of them considers the many ways that myth and truth and a country’s dark edges come together to create something wholly original—and unsettling.

Table of Contents


Part I: Past Hauntings
“Kind Stranger” by Meron Hadero (Lideta)
“A Double-Edged Inheritance” by Hannah Giorgis (Shiromeda)
“Ostrich” by Rebecca Fisseha (National Palace)
“Dust, Ash, Flight” by Maaza Mengiste (Mercato)

Part II: Translations of Grief
“Father Bread” by Mikael Awake (Kechené)
“The Blue Shadow” by Mahtem Shiferraw (Yerer Ber)
“A Night in Bela Sefer” by Sulaiman Addonia (Bela Sefer)

Part III: Madness Descends
“Insomnia” by Lelissa Girma (Haya Hulet)
“Of the Poet and the Café” by Girma T. Fantaye (Beherawi Theater)
“Under the Minibus Ceiling” by Bewketu Seyoum (Arat Kilo)
“Of Buns and Howls” by Adam Reta (Addis Ababa West)

Part IV: Police and Thieves
“Kebele ID” by Linda Yohannes (CMC)
“None of Your Business” by Solomon Hailemariam (French Legation)
“Agony of the Congested Heart” by Teferi Nigussie Tafa (Meskel Square)

Read an excerpt from the introduction by Maaza Mengiste at CrimeReads.

Read a preview of Addis Ababa Noir at Brittle Paper.

Read an excerpt of “Insomnia” by Lelissa Girma at Literary Hub.

Read interviews with editor Maaza Mengiste at Vol. 1 Brooklyn International Thriller Writers, and the Los Angeles Review of Books

Book Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Published: 8/4/20
  • IBSN: 9781617758201
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758270
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617759529


MAAZA MENGISTE is a novelist and essayist who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Creative Capital. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by the Guardian as one of the ten best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Granta, the Guardian, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and BBC, among other places. She was a writer on the documentary projects Girl Rising and The Invisible City: Kakuma. Her second novel, The Shadow King, was published in September 2019. She is the editor of Addis Ababa Noir.

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