Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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Philadelphia Noir

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Philly finally enters the Noir Series arena: the City of Brotherly Love becomes a City of Brotherly Malice.

$15.95 $11.96

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What people are saying…

Keith Gilman’s story, “Devil’s Pocket,” was nominated for a 2011 Macavity Award

“It’s a collection enhanced by an unerring sense of place . . . that will please the most discriminating lovers of the dark side.”
Kirkus Reviews

“It took long enough for Akashic’s noir series to get to Philly. Now that it has, compiled under the shadowy auspices of Inquirer literary critic/West Philly native Carlin Romano, the fun begins.”
Philadelphia City Paper

“Residents of Philadelphia have been nagging Akashic Books for years to see their own entry in the publisher’s award-winning Noir Series. The time has finally come. And it warns, there may be no recovery from the tarnishing of this fine, fine collection of 15 original short stories.”

“Carlin Romano assembles a balanced collection of stories from local writers reflecting the neighborhoods and sensibilities of the city and residents without romanticizing them . . . There’s no story in Philadelphia Noir that should be excised, and nothing that I can’t believe couldn’t happen.”
Syndicate Product Covert


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: Meredith Anthony, Diane Ayres, Cordelia Frances Biddle, Keith Gilman, Cary Holladay, Solomon Jones, Gerald Kolpan, Aimee LaBrie, Halimah Marcus, Carlin Romano, Asali Solomon, Laura Spagnoli, Duane Swierczynski, Dennis Tafoya, and Jim Zervanos.

From the introduction by Carlin Romano:

America’s first great city, first capital, and first industrial metropolis contained from the beginning the mix of poor workers and elite culture, of ethnic enclaves and religious intolerance, of easy skullduggery and flesh-pot possibilities, that led Lincoln Steffens in 1903 to famously rule it ‘corrupt and contented.’ Colonel William Markham, deputy governor of Pennsylvania from 1693 to 1699 (and William Penn’s cousin), was the first official on the take, hiding pirates at one hundred pounds a head, including Captain Kidd himself. We’ve had many similarly devoted public servants since . . .

Per capita, Philadelphia matches any city, weirdo incident for weirdo incident. But we trump everyone on history . . . With apologies, you won’t find the obvious here. Having served as literary critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty-five years, and written more stories on “Philadelphia literature” than anyone living, I thank my contributors for their very limited references to hoagies, cheesesteaks, water ice, soft pretzels, and waitresses who call their customers “Hon.” There’s no glimpse of Claes Oldenburg’s Clothespin or the rowers by the Waterworks, and only one passing mention of Rocky. Truth is, we don’t talk much about those things. We just live our lives.”

Table of Contents


Part I: City of Bursts
“Princess” by Aimee LaBrie (South Philadelphia)
“Scarred” by Solomon Jones (Strawberry Mansion)
“Secret Pool” by Asali Solomon (West Philadelphia)
“Devil’s Pocket” by Keith Gilman (Grays Ferry)

Part II: City of Otherly Love
“Above the Imperial” by Dennis Tafoya (East Falls)
“A Cut Above” by Laura Spagnoli (Rittenhouse Square)
“Swimming” by Halimah Marcus (Narberth)

Part III: The Faker City
“Fishtown Odyssey” by Meredith Anthony (Fishtown)
“Your Brother, Who Loves You” by Jim Zervanos (Fairmount)
“Cannot Easy Normal Die” by Carlin Romano (University City)
“Seeing Nothing” by Diane Ayres (Bella Vista)

Part IV: Those Who Forget The Past . . .
“Lonergan’s Girl” by Duane Swierczynski (Frankford)
“Reality” by Cordelia Frances Biddle (Old City)
“The Ratcatcher” by Gerald Koplan (South Street)
“Ghost Walk” by Cary Holladay (Chestnut Hill)

Book Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Published: 10/19/10
  • IBSN: 9781936070633
  • e-IBSN: 9781617750021


CARLIN ROMANO, critic-at-large of the Chronicle of Higher Education and literary critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty-five years, teaches philosophy and media theory at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2006, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, cited by the Pulitzer Board for “bringing new vitality to the classic essay across a formidable array of topics.” He is the editor of Philadelphia Noir and lives in West Philadelphia, in the only house on his block.

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