Yesterday, Akashic editor Ibrahim Ahmad kindly forwarded along a stellar review for Salar Abdoh’s TEHRAN NOIR, part of Akashic Book’s wide-ranging Noir series. The review ran in PopMatters, an on-line magazine that I’d not been familiar with, but that I will read faithfully from this point on. The review was of a collection of Tehran-set noir short stories that Abdoh commissioned, edited and then translated from the Persian. He’s a talented fellow.
There is something magical that happens for authors when they see that a reader, and especially a reviewer, really “gets” a book, when the level of engagement with the text is profound, insightful and original. Straight praise is great—who doesn’t appreciate superlatives?—but I thrill to reviews that connect a single very good book with the wider world, that open up its particular theme in a way that makes me shout, yes, that’s right. (My children are accustomed to hearing me talk to books, screens and magazines). What was particularly lovely about this piece was that the reviewer, Hans Rollman, also got the point of Akashic’s whole Noir project. Akashic has been publishing collections that focus on cities throughout the world, creating narrative maps of places from Istanbul to Boston, Addis Ababa to Brooklyn. Each story is set in a particular neighborhood, and though the books portray their subjects in “a chipped and jaded light” I agree that ”the Akashic Noir collections give a truly alternative and grassroots voice to the cities of the world, and the power of that voice conveys something beyond the noir style that is its medium.”
Akashic launched Tehran Noir and Tel Aviv Noir simultaneously, at a panel discussion at the New York Public Library. I’ve written here before about the effect of watching Israeli and Iranian authors share the stage to discuss both craft and country—it’s not something one usually encounters. As Jane noted in her post, publishing can be a volatile business and sometimes a venal one, but moments like that remind me what books can do.
In any event, whatever pleasure I experience from good reviews must be a faint echo of yours. Have you had a review that made your heart sing? What is it about the feeling that someone really “gets” your work?