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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.

*While supplies last, books ordered through the website will include a bookplate SIGNED by Joyce Carol Oates!

$15.95 $11.96

What people are saying…

Livia Llewellyn’s “One of These Nights” has WON the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Short Story, presented by the Mystery Writers of America!

“Miss Martin” by Sheila Kohler has been selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories 2021!

“An eclectic anthology edited by Joyce Carol Oates. It features the work of 16 distinguished writers, including Margaret Atwood, Valerie Martin, Steph Cha and Ms. Oates herself. The theme is ‘female noir,’ with shades encompassing ‘sociological realism . . . Grand Guignol surrealism . . . erotic playfulness [and] dark fairy-tale determinism.’ Noir sensibility, male or female, Ms. Oates concludes, is ‘not so much pessimistic as starkly realist, free of romantic illusion, expecting the less benign, resigned to the worst.’ If not the ideal cup of holiday cheer, then, perhaps a perfect tonic for the New Year?”
Wall Street Journal

“The indefatigable Joyce Carol Oates gathers a strong list of names for Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers. Emerging and established authors provide attention-grabbing short works: especially notable are Edwidge Danticat’s story on the quotidian horror of domestic violence, Bernice L. McFadden’s comic take on the appropriation of racial friendship, and Lisa Lim’s illustrations of a grotesque marriage.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

“Fifteen stories (and six ditties by Margaret Atwood) that view the conventions of noir fiction through female eyes. The most surprising aspect, given all the writers are women, is that the victims of crime/betrayal/despair are as likely to be shes as hes. Drowning, stabbing, shooting, beheading: the fun is endless.”
The Times of London

“But of course, in the end, it isn’t the themes or the innovations on the format of the short story anthology that make the tales collected in Cutting Edge most ‘feel’ as if you were reading Joyce Carol Oates herself. It is the writing. The tight plots and fresh, flowing prose that go about their business until—snap!—the story’s well-oiled mousetrap does its job.”
New York Journal of Books

“This collection of feminist crime tales edited by the one and only Joyce Carol Oates is marketed to ‘readers who are sick and tired of the status quo, or who just want to have a little bit of fun at the expense of a crumbling patriarchal society.’ Well, isn’t that everyone?”
CrimeReads, included in the Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019

“Each voice is different, each story providing its own appeal, its own approach to the nature of crime, and in most instances, what it means to live in a female body in a largely hostile world.”
Brooklyn Rail

Included in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Holiday Gift Guide!

“OBF, Inc.” by Bernice L. McFadden has been selected as one of the Best Mystery Stories of 2019 by Robert Lopresti of SleuthSayers!

Included in More2Read’s Best Books Published in 2019: Horror, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi!

“Oates’ stellar anthology of female noir . . . is an inclusive homage to the female/feminist perspective . . . Taken as a whole, the collection is a surreal yet satisfying journey into the darker side of the female consciousness, a book that, for all its murk and mayhem, celebrates feminine strength, cunning, and determination.”

“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”

Cutting Edge is a box of dark chocolates—each piece unique—spicy, strange, twisty, and electric—no two tastes alike. Joyce Carol Oates has hand-picked 17 sharp-edged, feminist-flavored tales of crime and mystery. An anthology filled with noirish thrills.”
ZoomStreet, A Holiday Quick Pick selection

“But what of woman alone? Judging on the basis of the excellent selection of stories Oates has chosen for her anthology, she isn’t alone that often, even though she may have to act without a confederate at times. Though Oates doesn’t quite say it, the male noir hero is rarely strictly alone—he is operating within a structure which is, no matter how inimical, essentially male as he is himself. When we turn to the female noir figure, however, she must invariably confront that same male framework and she may have few allies to depend upon.”
Reviewing the Evidence

“This collection is ALL written by women, and they are a far cry from your typically smart-mouthed well-heeled dame.”
The Fright Stuff

“This is an anthology of stories by many writers. These aren’t nice stories but they will stick with you. They’ll also keep you reading . . . ”
Journey of a Bookseller

“This collection is exceptional.”
Foster’s Daily Democrat

“All of the writers here have risen to the challenge with relish, repurposing the tropes and cliches of noir in diverse ways.”
The Herald (UK)

“Women writers of crime, mystery, and noir have been kicking their male counterparts in the keister lately. Evidence of this is Akashic Books’ outstanding new anthology Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers . . . To be scared, stimulated, transfixed, and entertained should be the motive of any writing. Cutting Edge is perfect reading for those with a taste for the nocturnal.”
Valerie Brooks’s Gobsmacked

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.

Listen to Anne Logan recommend Cutting Edge on CBC’s The Homestretch.

Read interviews with Joyce Carol Oates at CrimeReads and MysteryPeople.

Read an excerpt of “The Hunger” by Lisa Lim at The Rumpus.

Read an event preview of the Cutting Edge book launch in NYC at Tribeca Citizen.

Read an announcement about Cutting Edge at the Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Read a Q&A with Joyce Carol Oates at The Millions.

Read an excerpt of “OBF, Inc.” by Bernice L. McFadden at CrimeReads.

Read a feature/interview with Joyce Carol Oates at Palm Beach Post.

Listen to an interview with contributor S.J. Rozan at Author Talks (WCBS 880 New York, NY).

Book Details

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


JOYCE CAROL OATES is the author of many works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. She is the editor of New Jersey Noir, Prison Noir, A Darker Shade of Noir: New Stories of Body Horror by Women Writers, and Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers. Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award, PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Humanities Medal, and a World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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