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South Central Noir

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The Akashic Noir Series’ forensic study of Southern California sharpens its focus on one of Los Angeles’s most recognized neighborhoods.

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$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

“If you’re of a certain age, your perception of South Los Angeles might have been formed by riots and rappers. Or maybe you know it through television . . . But Gary Phillips, who grew up there, has a more historically complex point of view . . . For Phillips and the 13 other writers who contributed to his just-published anthology, those narrower, pop-infused renditions are just the tip of the iceberg . . . with the result that their work—and their city—is much richer for the exercise.”
Los Angeles Times

“Let’s make some space for crime fiction in miniature. Akashic Books offers its latest city-centric noir anthology with South Central Noir, which includes 14 top-notch stories about one of Los Angeles’s most chronicled neighborhoods. The editor, Gary Phillips—whose most recent novel is One-Shot Harry—has assembled a formidable group of writers that includes Jervey Tervalon, Tananarive Due, Naomi Hirahara, Steph Cha and Penny Mickelbury.”
New York Times Book Review

“This collection of noir short stories is a perfect introduction to the crime fiction genre and an unrelenting tour of one of LA’s most iconic neighborhoods from the Watts Towers to the Holiday Bowl to the Dunbar Hotel.”
L.A. Taco, One of the 27 Best Books About Los Angeles in 2022

South Central Noir features locale-centric short stories from writers Steph Cha, Nikolas Charles, Tananarive Due, Larry Fondation, Gar Anthony Haywood, Naomi Hirahara, Emory Holmes II, Roberto Lovato, Penny Mickelbury, Gary Phillips, Eric Stone, Jervey Tervalon, Jeri Westerson, and Désirée Zamorano, who should all rightfully be named because their contributions are searing and diverse, leaning on their own understanding of what could possibly happen within . . . ‘roughly 33 square miles.'”
New York Amsterdam News, One of the Best Black Books of 2022

South Central Noir, edited by Gary Phillips, is a remarkable anthology of fourteen original tales set in South Central Los Angeles. The stories are vivid, atmospheric, thought-provoking, and entertaining with nary a dud from the first page to the last.”
Mystery Scene Magazine

“South Central is hardly a monolith; these stories are set all over South Los Angeles. What they share is a deep sense of place, or maybe we should say: of what came before . . . This is noir as mirror. This is noir as lens. This is work that enlarges our sense of what noir is and what it does.”
Alta Online

“Short story collections are great when you want to do reading where you can dive in and out as necessary or even when you want to find new authors. Fourteen stories bring to life South Central LA—from some of the best crime writers like Steph Cha, Naomi Hirahara, and Tananarive Due.”

“The 14 tales in this strong entry in Akashic’s noir series focus on the robust past and present of one of the most notorious areas not just in Southern California but the country . . . Phillips and his contributors dig deep, presenting a rich tapestry of stories varied in tone and perspective.”
Publishers Weekly

“Editor Phillips packs 33 square miles of one of Los Angeles’ most iconic neighborhoods into 14 compact stories . . .These stories offer a strong sense of their community, covering a remarkable lot of ground on their beat.”
Kirkus Reviews

South Central Noir is another fine collection in the venerable, admirable Akashic Books series. And if the editors are willing to subdivide every city they have already visited, then we lucky readers of all things noir have decades of enjoyment ahead.”
New York Journal of Books

“An array of powerful literary contributions are compiled to create a powerfully written illustration of the predominately Black community of South Central Los Angeles.”
Amsterdam News


From the introduction by Gary Phillips: “Within these pages you’ll find stories of those walking the straight and narrow—until something untoward happens. Maybe it’s someone taking a step out of line, getting caught up in circumstances spiraling out of their control. Maybe they’re planning the grift, the grab . . . whatever it is to finally put them over. Other times the steps they take are to get themselves or people they care about out from under. You’ll find the offerings in these pages are a rich mix of tone—tales told of hope, survival, revenge, and triumph. Excursions beyond the headlines and the hype.

The settings herein reflect South Central today or chronicle its colorful past, such as the days of the jazz joints along Central Avenue . . . From South Park to East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, from the borderlands of Watts to the one-time Southern Pacific railroad tracks paralleling Slauson Avenue, take a tour of a section of Los Angeles that may be unfamiliar to you but you will get to know, at least a little, by the time you finish reading this entertaining and engaging anthology.”

Featuring brand-new stories by: Steph Cha, Nikolas Charles, Tananarive Due, Larry Fondation, Gar Anthony Haywood, Naomi Hirahara, Emory Holmes II, Roberto Lovato, Penny Mickelbury, Gary Phillips, Eric Stone, Jervey Tervalon, Jeri Westerson, and Désirée Zamorano.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Published: 9/6/22
  • IBSN: 9781636140544
  • e-IBSN: 9781636140667
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781636140551


GARY PHILLIPS has published novels, comics, and short stories, and edited numerous anthologies. Violent Spring, first published in 1994, was named one of the essential crime novels of Los Angeles. Culprits, a linked anthology he coedited, has been optioned as a British miniseries, and he was a staff writer on FX’s Snowfall about crack and the CIA in 1980s South Central, where he grew up. He is the editor of Orange County Noir, and the coeditor of The Cocaine Chronicles. He has contributed stories to Dublin Noir, Los Angeles Noir, Phoenix Noir, and The Heroin Chronicles. South Central Noir is his latest anthology.

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