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Chicago Noir

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This isn’t someone’s dream of Chicago. It’s not even a nightmare. It’s just the real city, unfiltered. Chicago Noir.

$18.95 $14.21

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“The population of Chicago Noir is as diverse as any crowd at the lakefront fireworks show . . . As representative of Chicago as Oprah, MJ and a Gold Coast hot dog.”
—Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Noir asks us to consider whether Chicago is, specifically, a noir city and, more significantly, how noir plays out in the current landscape . . . Its stories push us to think about how noir might still be relevant beyond a bad-ass sort of nostalgia.”
—American Book Review

“Chicago shouts noir from the top of the Sears Tower to the nether regions of Wacker Drive, from the crime-ridden West Side to the moneyed taint of the North . . . Perhaps most impressive about Pollack’s collection is the wide variety of writers selected to contribute.”

“The stories that editor Pollack has chosen to represent his former hometown vary wildly in voices, approaches and style . . . New interpretations, juxtaposed with classic structures, bring together the different faces of Chicago: North and South, old and new.”
—TimeOut Chicago

“Marshaling the talents of eighteen award winning and acclaimed writers, most of whom have professional and/or personal ties to Chicago, Pollack . . . pays homage to the city that epitomizes the noir genre . . . Demonstrating crisp, riveting pacing, dialog redolent with sardonic despair, and dark, nihilistic atmosphere, nearly all the entries are stellar examples of noir at its best.”

“The latest urban noir anthology provides the audience with eighteen delightful tales that pay homage to the ethnic neighborhoods and to the sports teams.”
—Midwest Book Review

Chicago Noir is a highly readable story collection which offers numerous fresh, inventive takes on the well-worn noir genre . . . A very enjoyable effort overall.”
—Pete Lit

Chicago Noir is a legitimate heir to the noble literary tradition of the greatest city in America. Nelson Algren and James Farrell would be proud.”
—Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby

“If ever a city was made to be the home of noir, it’s Chicago. These writers go straight to Chicago’s noir heart.”
—Aleksandar Hemon, author of Nowhere Man


Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.

Brand-new stories by: Neal Pollack, Achy Obejas, Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski, Adam Langer, Joe Meno, Peter Orner, Kevin Guilfoile, Bayo Ojikutu, Jeffery Renard Allen, Luciano Guerriero, Claire Zulkey, Andrew Ervin, M.K. Meyers, Todd Dills, C.J. Sullivan, Daniel Buckman, Amy Sayre-Roberts, and Jim Arndorfer.

From the introduction by Neal Pollack:

Chicago’s literature has rarely concerned itself with the vagaries of the upper and upper-middle classes. The city’s best writers—Nelson Algren, James Farrell, Studs Terkel, Richard Wright, and so on—have traditionally used working people as their palette. They accurately captured the rough streets and random cruelty of urban life, but for people living in Chicago, their stories meant something more. They shaped the way Chicagoans think about themselves, and about Chicago.

The excellent new stories I’ve collected in this volume try to fill the gap between how the world sees Chicago and how Chicago sees itself. Many of the stories take nostalgia as a theme. Some have a yellowing snapshot feel, as though they’re trying to archive a city that’s just about gone. Adam Langer looks wistfully back at neighborhood life in the 1970s. C.J. Sullivan’s protagonist, long past whatever sad prime he once had, also remembers the ’70s as a golden age. Peter Orner drifts even further back, to the 1950s, while inhabiting the mind of one of Chicago’s most sinister criminals, and Claire Zulkey visits the city 100 years ago, when people were strange and their crimes even stranger. Now that was a city worth writing about.

Table of Contents


“Goodnight Chicago and Amen” by Luciano Guerriero (99th & Drexel)
“The Gospel of Moral Ends” by Bayo Ojikutu (77th & Jeffery)
“Dear Mr. Kleczka” by Peter Orner (54th & Blackstone)
“The Near Remote” by Jeffery Renard Allen (35th & Michigan)
“Destiny Returns” by Achy Obejas (26th & Kedvale)
“The Great Billik” by Claire Zulkey (19th & Sacramento)
“Maximillian” by Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski (18th & Allport)
“All Happy Families” by Andrew Ervin (Canal & Jackson)
“Monkey Head” by M.K. Meyers (Grand & Western)
“Zero Zero Day” by Kevin Guilfoile (Grand & Racine)
“Arcadia” by Todd Dills (Chicago & Noble)
“Alex Pinto Hears the Bell” by C.J. Sullivan (North & Troy)
“Pure Products” by Daniel Buckman (Roscoe & Claremont)
“Death Mouth” by Amy Sayre-Roberts (Roscoe & Broadway)
“Like a Rocket with a Beat” by Joe Meno (Lawrence & Broadway)
“Marty’s Drink or Die Club” by Neal Pollack (Clark & Foster)
“Bobby Kagan Knows Everything” by Adam Langer (Albion & Whipple)
“The Oldest Rivalry” by Jim Arndorfer (I-94, Lake Forest Oasis)



Book Details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Published: 9/1/05
  • IBSN: 9781888451894
  • e-IBSN: 9781936070244


NEAL POLLACK worked as a reporter for the Chicago Reader from 1993–2000, where he wrote the “Petty Crime” column, among many other assignments. He’s the author of three books of satire, including the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature and the rock ‘n’ roll novel Never Mind the Pollacks. He provided annotations and an introduction for Akashic’s publication of John Adams’s A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America and was the editor of Chicago Noir. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and magazines, and he’s a regular contributor to Vanity Fair and Nerve.

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