Thirty-two stories by thirty-two writers, all acclaimed for their talents, makes this a very desirable book for the lover of noir in all its fascinating varieties. Award-winning author Kenneth Wishnia introduces the collection with a definition of noir as it relates to the Jewish experience, beginning from biblical times until today. He reminds us that the Jews are called ivrim or “from the other side” — strangers, wanderers, rootless people. We are the “chosen ones” but also cursed; our biblical stories are nightmarish, as is our history both ancient and modern, filled with tormentors and pursuers, inquisitions and blood libels, satans and angels, visionaries and prophets of doom and man-made yet divinely touched golems. What can be darker, more noir-ish than that?
Wishnia’s work is included in this collection, as well as that of S. J. Rozan and David Liss. A 1912 Yiddish story “A Simkhe” by Yente Serdatsky is reprinted here from the Forverts in English for the very first time. The rest, however, are modern-day tales about the last and current centuries. The content covers the Holocaust era, antisemitism on the college campus, ethical issues, and crime fiction — with touches of dark humor added in for good measure as well. The stories are short, entertaining, quick reads. As with any short story collection, if you don’t happen to love one, you’ll surely adore the next piece.